May 19 2013 Latest news:
By Kathryn Bradley
Friday, March 8, 2013
More than 150 people crowded in to the hall at Carlton Colville Primary School in a bid to find a solution to the traffic problems caused by parents dropping off and picking up their children.
Two weeks ago, The Journal reported that an ambulance taking 76-year-old Frank Nicholls (pictured) to hospital had to reverse in to the school car park and go back down Gisleham Road because its path was blocked by cars – to the frustration of its driver.
Car drivers failed to move out of the way, even though the ambulance had its blue lights and siren on.
Mr Nicholls, who lives in Gisleham Road, had a potentially life-threatening blood clot on his lung. He spent four days in hospital being treated and is now recovering at home.
Some of the other problems listed by parents and residents at Monday’s meeting included:
■ A woman, who lives opposite the school, said she had to get out of bed to move her car while still in her pyjamas one morning after the driver of a school bus knocked on her door because he could not get through;
■ A horse rider said she once had to ride through the school car park to get by because Gisleham Road was completely blocked with parked cars when the school held a sports day;
■ A disabled mum complained that able-bodied parents were parking in the disabled drivers’ bays. She said that when she did manage to get a bay, parents would park behind her and block her in;
■ A parent said he had seen teachers being verbally abused and other parents physically fighting and pushing one another in frustration at the congestion;
■ Residents said a lorry carrying 300 pigs could not get down Fairhead Loke to the farm because cars were parked in the way and that the driver had to wait until the vehicles had been moved. They added that the farmer now tried to avoid arranging deliveries at school opening and closing times because the congestion was so bad.
There was standing room only at the heated public meeting, which was chaired by county councillor Kathy Gosling and attended by Suffolk’s cabinet member for education and young people, Graham Newman.
Parents, local residents and teachers spoke for more than an hour about the congestion around the school in Gisleham Road which, as the Journal reported last month, delayed an ambulance taking a sick man to hospital.
Carol Child, the school’s head teacher, said her staff had been out directing traffic because they were so concerned for the safety of children.
She said teachers had been abused by some parents and even spoken to by a police officer as a result of their good intentions.
Mrs Child told the meeting she knew of children who had nearly been knocked down, and she had even seen staff get in front of cars, almost on their windscreens, to prevent pupils being hit.
“It is down to everybody to behave responsibly and sensibly,” she said. “The abuse that my staff have had to put up with is completely and utterly unacceptable.”
Householders said parents began parking along the road at 1.40pm as people arrived to pick up children at 3pm.
They said it was difficult to get in and out of their homes because of the sheer volume of traffic, and they frequently came close to being involved in an accident.
Parents and residents called for a car park to be built on the school playing field to stop people blocking Gisleham Road.
There were also calls for a road to be built connecting Gisleham Road and Rushmere Road, and for a one-way system to be introduced.
An offer by Gary Lambert, owner of Gary Lambert Construction Ltd, to build the car park for 70 vehicles at cost price was greeted with a round of applause.
But Mrs Gosling said she was concerned the creation of more parking spaces would simply encourage more people to drive and she would prefer it if parents did not use their cars at all.
She said work had already been done by the council to help resolve the problem, including painting double yellow lines, removing a roundabout and installing 20’s Plenty speed signs to improve safety.
However, parents argued that they did not feel safe walking their children to school because the footpaths were not wide enough for two people and there was too much traffic to allow children to cycle.
Many told the meeting they felt stressed and worried about taking their children to and from school and arrived early to find a space.
One mum said she fed her baby in the car outside school for an hour because she had to arrive so early to park.
She added: “You don’t move children through to a school where there is nowhere to park. It is wrong and is stressing everybody out. It is not fair anymore and something needs to be done.”
After the meeting, Mr Newman said he hoped to form a steering group to ensourage parents, residents and the school to work together.
He said similar congestion problems had been solved at schools elsewhere in Suffolk but pointed out that none of the county’s 300-plus school had such a large car park for parents.
Nearly 3,000 people have supported a Facebook campaign demanding safety improvements on the A47 near Dereham set up after the latest fatal crash.
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