AN investigation is today under way after a child escaped from a council-run nursery and was found standing in a main road by a passer-by.
The little girl left Granton Children and Families Centre before 11am yesterday and was alone in Pilton Drive North – a busy bus route – when the member of the public came to her rescue, avoiding a potential tragedy.
It was claimed that a learner driver had to swerve to avoid hitting the child as she attempted to cross the road before another motorist stopped and carried the girl to safety.
Members of the public were then forced to ask passers-by whether they knew where the child had come from, before making a speculative inquiry at the nearby centre where staff admitted that they had lost the girl.
Father-of-two Ian Fleming, 30, assisted in efforts to return the distressed child, who he said appeared to be no older than three years old and was being cared for by two other people when he arrived at the scene, to safety.
He said: “When I heard about what was going on the first thing that entered my head was my four-year-old and two-year-old children.
“When you drop them off in the morning you expect them to be safe.
“The girl was crying a wee bit but the lady looking after her managed to calm her down. Luckily she was too young to know what being missing means. She seemed more interested in sweeties by the end. Hopefully she won’t be too shaken up by nearly being run over. But she could have been taken by someone – anything could have happened. Hopefully the people working at the nursery will get what they deserve.”
It is not yet known how the child escaped from the centre or how long she was on her own for, although Mr Fleming said passers-by were trying to ascertain where the child had come from for between 20 minutes and half an hour.
The building is surrounded by high fencing although there is a gate to the rear of the nursery, which has its main entrance in Wardieburn Road and backs onto Pilton Drive North, where as many as eight double-decker No.8 buses pass every hour. Sources said that nursery staff were aware of the disappearance and were searching for the child when she was returned, although they had not yet notified the police.
The police were called to the scene by the concerned members of the public who were looking after the little girl.
A spokesperson for Lothian and Borders Police said officers had been called to the scene at around 10:55am and that they had ensured the girl was safely back in the nursery.
Cllr Vicki Redpath, who represents the Forth ward where the centre is situated, said she was “shocked” after learning of the child escape.
She added: “It’s very concerning that a child has managed to wander out. It’s not acceptable. “I’m glad she was found safely but this shouldn’t have happened. We have to find out what’s gone wrong.”
Cllr Paul Godzik, convener of the council’s Children and Families Committee, said: “We are aware of an incident involving a child in one of our Children and Families Centres this morning. The child is safe and well but we are investigating all the circumstances to put measures in place to prevent this from happening again.”
Not the first time
yesterday’s incident was not the first of its kind in the Capital.
In November 2010, a five-year-old sparked a frantic search after going AWOL from Stenhouse Primary School. She was found on a busy main road 300 metres away 40 minutes later.
And in 2004, three youngsters – a three-year-old and two two-year-olds – were unharmed after they fled Hailesland Children’s Centre through a broken gate, and then a hole in a fence.
On that occasion, council chiefs said they would launch an investigation into the incident in a bid to prevent it happening again.