Friday, 28 August 2015

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Action promised to reduce traffic problems at Carlisle schools

Road safety chiefs have promised immediate action to tackle the crisis engulfing two Carlisle primary schools.

Kingmoor schools meeting photo
Chris Wills addresses the meeting

Cumbria County Council’s school travel expert Chris Wills has been given extra resources by the authority to sort long-running traffic issues outside the neighbouring Kingmoor schools at Lowry Hill.

He has also threatened to draft in police and council wardens to prosecute drivers who continue to flout traffic rules as they work with parents of youngsters attending Kingmoor Nursery and Infant School and the junior school next door and nearby residents.

“Walking Buses” will be introduced quickly to help cut the number of cars heading to Hether Drive and Liddle Close each morning and afternoon.

Parents are being asked to volunteer to help man the walking buses. Mr Wills says he will cover the cost of CRB checks where needed.

Mr Wills also wants to start up a “Park and Stride” scheme, where parents are encouraged to park up in a designated area and walk their children the final part of the journey to school. And for the first time in Cumbria cycle training will be offered to year four pupils – eight and nine year olds.

Safe scooter training is also on the cards for infant school pupils, with free scooters provided where possible.

Problems of people parking and driving dangerously, particularly at school drop-off and pick-up times, led to the collapse of detailed plans to extend the Kingmoor infant and junior schools.

The decision has plunged the two Kingmoor schools into crisis, with education leaders at Cumbria County Council pledging short-term solutions until they can get their ambitions for new building schemes back on track.

No details of how long the traffic schemes would have to run before they were deemed to be a success and new plans could be drawn up were discussed.

Both schools are already full with extra classrooms and facilities needed. Last year Cumbria County Council agreed to increase their intakes to cope with a shortage of school places in the north of the city coupled with a city-wide rising birth rate.

Kingmoor Nursery and Infant School’s intake went up from 60 to 75 last September.

The changes will impact on Kingmoor Junior School as the larger year groups move up from the infant school.

Mr Wills, addressing about 40 parents and residents at a meeting in the infant school’s hall, said: “[The traffic situation]... is a solvable solution, as long as there is a reasonable commitment from people who are here and those who are absent.

“I am confident we can solve this. It is a very simple masterplan. We need to make things happen very quickly, and very visibly.”

He added: “From what I have seen before, the behaviour of people coming to the school is not just illegal, it is often unsafe. This is unacceptable. If there is risk we need to eliminate that and we need to send a clear message that I will not be shy to prosecute.

“This is an exception here. I can draft in extra resources immediately. I want residents to see there are improvements coming in and that they are having an impact.”

Parents called for the council to bring back lollipop men before walking buses are introduced to ensure traffic can be stopped safely on the busiest routes.

Jen Warwick, chairman of the infant school governing body, said: “I feel quite positive. We have got a way forward that should bring real benefits to the children and we’ve really got to go with that.

“Long-term we still want to achieve the best situation we can for our children and the children who are coming into this school.”

Resident Christine Wainwright welcomed the efforts but said those living close to the schools would not be happy until the issues were successfully resolved.



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