First day back to school after the long summer holiday break and yes, as expected inconsiderate drivers are back out in force. I understand, many people may not realise there are over 170 FREE parking spaces within 4 minutes walk of the school, all thanks to the an agreement with the Co-op, however, there really is NO excuse to park on the path, blocking residents driveways and worse of all, forcing parents and children on to the road to avoid the parked car.
Fiveways Primary School has been given the go ahead by Essex County Council to increase the size of the school by 320 pupils, bringing it to 640 children who will attend the school in a newly build block by the end of 2021. This will result in more dangerous road traffic and have been heavily campaigning Essex County Council to take a serious look at the current road safety infrastructure in place.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a meeting with Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader at Essex County Council to discuss this ongoing situation with representatives from the Education and Highways departments. NEPP (North Essex Parking Partnership) did not attend however I believe they were invited.
Amongst the discussions I raised the issue of increased road traffic, lack of zebra crossing outside the school, parents who use the pathways as parking spaces and a lack of viable options for disabled drivers.
Here are a few points that have already been reviewed by the relevant teams, as published by the School Organisation Team at Essex County Council:-
- Appointment of School Travel Plan Advisor
The Advisor will seek to encourage collaboration between neighbouring schools, to develop more effective solutions for the neighbourhood. The Advisor is based at Colchester Borough Council and has experience of working with local businesses, schools and communities to promote sustainable travel.
- Enforcement of Existing Restrictions & Parking Survey
Essex County Council are liaising with the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) to programme periodic parking enforcement within the Stanway area with the assistance of the Park Safe camera car.
- Access Arrangements to School and Cycle/ Scooter Parking Facilities
Vehicular access arrangements for Stanway Fiveways are to remain the same as the current situation with access to the site obtained via Winstree Road. The existing car park which is for staff only will be reconfigured to provide a total of 42 car parking spaces. This is an increase of 19 spaces.
- Continual Promotion of Sustainable School Travel
With the support and guidance of the School Travel Plan Advisor, it is planned to continue to use the school newsletter and other school based activities to raise awareness of park and stride, Eco Race and other sustainable school travel initiatives
Although non of these points directly interface with the current issue of an increase of traffic on Winstree Road as a result of the school expansion plans (which I do support), I have made it absolutely clear road safety improvements are needed urgently and have re-iterated the following ideas to all concerned:-
- Car Park Gates
Traffic gates at Fiveways Primary School could be moved now, not later, to remove waiting vehicles from obstructing the cycle path. Maybe automated or opened in the mornings and evenings for disabled drivers.
- Zig Zag Lines
Zig Zag lines should be mirrored on the opposite side of the road outside Fiveways Primary School to finally put a stop to cars parking opposite the school on road/path. There are nearly 200 residents and parents currently supporting this request.
- Zebra Crossing Needed
A Zebra Crossing should now be installed outside Fiveways Primary School to ensure children and parents safety – especially when the crossing attendant is not available which currently seems to be a long term problem we are facing.
- Park and Stride
The Co-op car park should be looked to be purchased by ECC to secure a long term commitment to the Park and Stride scheme to prevent a sale by the Co-op.
- Side Access
Compulsory purchase of land on Woden Avenue should be considered to allow for a pedestrian access to Fiveways Primary School using the Park and Stride.
- Entrance Barriers
Consideration to be given to move the barriers outside the current Fiveways Primary School pedestrian entrance away from the gates and extended along a greater section of highway. Currently it takes 10 minutes for all parents to enter the school site at collection time. Soon that time will double. This is a potential crush point.
- Gate Openings
Potential widening of the pedestrian access point at Fiveways Primary School on Winstree Road to accommodate cyclists, scooters and double the increase in foot traffic.
- Bus Route Traffic Management
It was briefly mentioned about the bus not being able to turn out of Wheatfield Road on to Winstree Road. Could the existing double yellow lines be upgraded to red lines opposite this junction?
- Holly Road
The junction opposite Holly Road on Winstree Road is also dangerous to pedestrians as cars often drive literally into the Holly Road junction to pass parked vehicles. In my opinion parking restrictions should be placed here, either timed or double yellow.