Darlington'S first school travel plan was launched at a special assembly at Harrowgate Hill Junior School yesterday.

The £65,000 scheme is the result of months of consultation between Darlington Borough Council officers, teachers and children.

Transport issues and problems on the journey to school and possible solutions were covered in the discussion groups, resulting in the introduction of new road safety measures.

Ideas from the children have been incorporated into the work, which includes traffic control schemes in Thompson Street West and Longfield Road. Future work may also include the introduction of an informal one-way system in the lane at the rear of Thompson Street West at school start and finishing times, to make the lane safer. As part of their research into the scheme, the pupils did role-playing exercises, where they pretended to be residents, shopkeepers, parents and answered a questionnaire on their behalf.

They also looked at ways to travel to school and carried out a survey at the school gate. Ideas on how to make the school entrance and exit safer for children were also considered. Councillor Nick Wallis, the council's cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "This is the first of a series of school travel plans which will feature in schools across the borough.

"Reducing the risk to children travelling to and from school is a key target of the council and I am delighted at the success of this first scheme. Our officers have worked hand-in-hand with the school to ensure that the completed plan is one which will be owned by everyone and will help address the issues closest to the hearts of pupils, parents, and local residents.