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Monday, March 30, 2009

Could Pupil Power Ease Ponteland Traffic Troubles?

PUPILS could become traffic wardens for the day in a bid to tackle parking problems on the road outside their schools.
Head Teacher of Richard Coates Middle Paul Rusby said the idea, which he saw being put into practice by another school on television, was among the options being discussed by it and Ponteland First, both at Thornhill Road.

And after concerns that the current traffic calming measures were not effective enough, Northumberland County Council has agreed a re-think and is proposing new ones to try to ease the problems.

Complaints about cars parking along the road and on pavements when taking pupils to and picking them up from school — which parents, local residents and councillors say reduces an already narrow road and puts children's safety at risk when crossing — have intensified since the First School joined the Middle School in 2007.

At a meeting of the Northumberland County Council Area Committee for Castle Morpeth, Mr Rusby said: "When watching the regional news on television, I saw that pupils from Cullercoats Primary School, with the Police alongside them, were wearing luminous jackets and placed reminder notices on cars.

"It appeared that it was effective in getting the message across about the problems caused by parents parking right outside.

"We would have to be very careful to make sure we were not putting any of our young people at risk, but we are being as flexible as possible and will consider all sensible ideas that we see or are suggested."

There are traffic calming measures along the road (20mph limit, speed cushions and chicanes which allow only one vehicle through at a time) to reduce speed, but Committee Chairman Richard Dodd believes there needs to be a change.

The Ponteland North member said: "My daughter goes to Richard Coates School, so I regularly see the problems on Thornhill Road and I think we all agree that we have to do something about the traffic at dropping off and picking up times," he said.

"Measures were put in place to try to deal with that, but they are not working and so we need new ones in place."

Dick Fraser, Head of Policy and Information for Community and Environmental Services, said officers had looked at the site during peak traffic times and decided that the chicanes should be removed.

"If there was only one school in the area they might have been useful but not with two, and unfortunately we have seen people driving faster through them which defeats their purpose," he said.

"We are now proposing to take them out and put in road humps to keep the two-way flow of traffic all the way along the road and we are happy to listen to other ideas to slow traffic down at this stage.

"But this is only part of what is needed, as there are enforcement issues to consider and we are encouraging the schools to educate parents about other parking facilities nearby."

He said there would be be consultation on all major measures proposed, which could also include yellow lines and signs warning cars not to park in the bus turning circle area.
Source: Morpeth Herald