Road Safety at Primary schools- Letter from Sandra Gage

Dear Sir

I read in Saturday’s EADT of the child injured outside Cliff Lane Primary School, Ipswich. I hope he is recovering and is back at school soon.

Parking outside our primary schools in Ipswich and Lowestoft is a regular concern with parents, schools and residents. It has increased in recent years to a point where we regularly have gridlock, children have to negotiate parked vehicles half parked on pavements, or try to cross where cars have blocked visibility by parking on ‘keep clear’ zig zags. Cars transporting school children add to the queues on many of our main roads in the morning peak, and extend the evening peak flows to as early as 2.50pm.

Ipswich has an urgent need for additional primary school places, and to date the County Council response has been to extend the existing schools, without much consideration of the impact this will have on the surrounding residential streets. At the 18 September Ipswich Borough Council North East  Area Committee Meeting, Councillors agreed to fund a civil parking enforcement trial outside a number of our schools in Rushmere, St Johns and Bixley Wards. This in response to the numerous requests from residents and parents for action, and the lack of any action taken by the County Council highway authority. At the County Council Development Control Committee meeting of 16 September, I made a plea, as the Rushmere Councillor, for the proposed  Rushmere Hall Primary School expansion to include a condition that Suffolk County Council works with the school to develop realistic, sustainable walking and cycling options, to help parents and nearby residents. The school will expand by 50% by 2017.

In Lowestoft we have the added complication of primary schools facing increased numbers as a result of the County Council School Organisation Review. Carlton Colville Primary School has around 400 cars trying to park outside morning and afternoon. This has been happening every school day for over two years, with no intervention by Suffolk County Council. Local County Councillor Sonia Barker and I have attended various meetings at the school, and put forward a number of suggestions around improving footways, increasing cycling parking, reviewing on street parking, and various other options. Suffolk County Council has yet to propose anything, six months after they promised to look at our suggestions.

If we are going to continue to see our existing primary schools expand to accommodate additional places, then Suffolk County Council should reinstate the school road safety funding abolished in 2011, and provide professional support to school head teachers to resolve this growing road safety problem at our schools

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