Parents have been banned from using cars to drop off and pick up children from outside a handful of Norfolk schools, to reduce pollution and improve safety. DAVID HANNANT went along to one to find out how the scheme was going

The familiar sound heralding the end of the school day - a chorus of excited children heading through the gates - seems a little louder than usual at Dussindale Primary School.

Perhaps that is a consequence of a lack of competing noise from nearby traffic.

The school, on the outskirts of Norwich, is among a handful in the county which is taking part in a trial which stops parents from using cars to drop off or collect their children.

The county council and charity Sustrans, which are running the scheme, hope it will reduce pollution, improve safety and encourage healthier living, by encouraging more people to walk to school.

Three schools are currently taking part - Dussindale, plus two in Wymondham, Robert Kett and Browick Primary.

Nelson Infant and Wensum Junior schools are also set to join the trial once details have been finalised.

At Dussindale, the trial began on Monday, May 9, with traffic banned on Vane Close to all but those who live there between 8.15 and 9am and from 2.45pm until 3.30pm on school days.

For the first week of the trial, volunteer marshals stood in place to ensure motorists did not use the road unless they showed a badge to prove they were allowed to access it.

When I visited, the volunteers were absent, meaning the closure was not being directly enforced. But cars seemed to be staying away, and parents said they had noted a difference already.


Eastern Daily Press: Sam Smith, who hopes the traffic ban at Dussindale Primary can staySam Smith, who hopes the traffic ban at Dussindale Primary can stay (Image: Archant)

Sam Smith, who has a child in year six at the school said: "I thought it was a really good idea. Even though the close has single yellow lines we always used to get lots of cars driving up to the gates and waiting.

"I would love it to be made permanent as I think it made quite a big difference."


Eastern Daily Press: Jade Fulcher and Esther Clayton, whose children attend Dussindale PrimaryJade Fulcher and Esther Clayton, whose children attend Dussindale Primary (Image: Archant)

Mother-of-three Esther Clayton, who has two children at the school and one in the pre-school, said: "I think it was lovely. It was quite a lot easier, although I do think that roads further along were a bit busier.

"For ages, people used to park right up alongside the school, even though the school has an agreement with Sainsburys [in Pound Lane] that parents can park there and walk up.

"I think it would be good if it was made permanent."


Eastern Daily Press: Christine Gooderham, picking up her grandchildren from Dussindale PrimaryChristine Gooderham, picking up her grandchildren from Dussindale Primary (Image: Archant)

Christine Gooderham does the school run a few times a week to pick up her grandchildren. She said: "The road has been a bit quieter even without the closure, so I think it may have made people think more carefully about where they park."

Jade Fulcher, who has children in year six and reception, said: "It is really lovely to see fewer cars on the road, which could actually make things a bit easier for parents who have to get to work in the morning."


However, not every parent was convinced by the measure.

David, who did not wish to give his last name. said: "I think it just displaced the problem - people were just clogging up the roads elsewhere on the estate.

"I also don't think it is particularly fair on working parents. It can turn a 15-minute task into a 40 minute round trip, meaning parents who have to take time off work to do the school run are having to take more time away, so lose out on money."

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for transport, said: “We’re really pleased with the positive feedback on the trials so far that we’ve had from schools, parents and carers, and the children themselves.

"We are seeking additional volunteers in Dussindale and welcome expressions of interest, the feedback has been very positive but we need volunteers to sustain the pilot.

"If anyone has a little bit of time to help out I’d urge them to get in touch to express an interest or find out a bit more information – email or call us on 0344 800 8020.”