Edinburgh schoolboy Thomas Wong: Councillors vow to do all they can to prevent repeat of fatal crash

Emergency debate at Edinburgh's transport committee
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Councillors on Edinburgh's transport committee have vowed to do all they can to prevent a repeat of the crash which claimed the life of an 11 year old boy cycling to school.

Thomas Wong died after he was struck by a bin lorry in Whitehouse Road on his way to Cramond Primary School on Friday last week.

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In an emergency debate on road safety at today's meeting of the council's transport committee, Lib Dem group leader Kevin Lang, who represents the area, said: "The death of any person from.an accident is a tragedy but for it to happen to an 11 year old child, that's especially difficult and painful. Thomas Wong had his whole life before him and it was cut short in the cruellest fashion.

Eleven-year-old Thomas Wong died in a crash with a bin lorry while cycling to school.Eleven-year-old Thomas Wong died in a crash with a bin lorry while cycling to school.
Eleven-year-old Thomas Wong died in a crash with a bin lorry while cycling to school.

"We have talked about a worry that some of the impetus has come out of school travel plans and safe routes to school. We ask a lot of parent councils - we don't always give them the resoruces they need to turn those plans into action. And if there's one thing to come out of this, I hope that with a good and growing road safety team we can get the energy and focus back on that."

"We cannot turn the clock back to last Friday, but we can look forward and take action here to try and ensure this awful tragedy never happens again."

Making a deputation to the committee, cycling group Spokes said there were long-running problems around Whitehouse Road including heavy traffic pressure, excess speeds, “chaotic” parking, and long queues of vehicle, all of which contributed to a “hostile” environment for cyclists.

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Spokes member Graeme Hart, who lives in Cramond suggested restricting HGV movements at school travel times, increasing the number of speed bumps and creating more pavement space in front of the Barnton shops.

He said: "The community is heartbroken beyond words at the death of Thomas Wong. We wish we could bring him back but we cannot. What we can do is everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.”

Transport convener Scott Arthur pointed out other recent accidents, including the death of 74-year-old Andrew Grant who was hit by a bus in Oxgangs on February 16 and a hit and run which injured a 12-year-old boy in Gilmerton Road on Wednesday.

He said: "Thomas's death is a reminder that all of us in the city share the responsibility that al of us in the city share to ensure children can get to school safely and reach their full potential. I think there’s a real opportunity to make sure this isn’t repeated.”

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SNP transport spokesman Danny Aston said: "We need to find out what happened here and we need to act as a council so it will not happen again. One of our most basic duties as a local authority is ensuring the children and young people of this city are safe at school and safe on their way to school. I know that everyone around this table will agree we must do better."

Council director of place Paul Lawrence told the committee officials were looking at what could be done immediately and what more substantial measures could be introduced in the longer term.

Thomas's family have described him as "the perfect son" and said they were "utterly heartbroken" by his death. In a statement at the weekend they said: "He was the best little brother to his older sister and was adored by all his family. Thomas went to Cramond Primary School, which he loved. He made good friends there. We will all miss him terribly. We are very grateful for all the sympathy and heartfelt messages we have received from people. Thank you.”

And Cramond head teacher Helen Donaldson has said Thomas was “always smiling” and that he was a “positive, friendly and curious” boy. She said: ““He was kind and always eager to support others, and will be greatly missed by all of us.”

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