Long-standing school traffic problems eased

SCHOOL traffic problems in Ponteland have been eased, but more efforts are to be made to tackle the issue.

Teachers, residents, councillors and parents have long complained about the parking problems in Thornhill Road during the twice-daily school runs, which they say puts children’s lives in danger.

A determined effort has been made to clamp down on inconsiderate parking in the area around Ponteland First School and Richard Coates Middle School over the last four years.

And local county councillor Richard Dodd, who was one of those campaigning for more road safety features, contributed substantial funds from his Small Schemes allowance to bring them about.

Now a traffic management scheme is in place, including on-street parking restrictions, a pedestrian crossing and off-street parking facilities for residents, which has helped to bring about a five per cent reduction in car use.

However, even more work will follow to prevent on-street parking in Thornhill Road south of the schools and to provide more spaces for residents.

Coun Dodd said: “We have spent £22,000 and counting on this bit of road, and there is more to come in, but I’m starting to become reluctant to spend more and more unless action is taken by others, such as enforcement.

“We have put in a zebra crossing and yellow lines and now more yellow lines will be put in. We are working extensively with the schools, the council and the headteachers to try to address this issue.

“We have been doing a lot of things in this area.”

Northumberland County Council’s travel planning team is working closely with the schools, but while there has been some success in reducing car usage in the area it still remains relatively high as many children have to travel quite long distances to reach the first school in particular, including some who travel from Newcastle.

However, the authority hopes that the traffic management measures will encourage such families to use the extensive and convenient car parking facilities next to the Thornhill Road shops, rather than parking on-street and on pavements.

Council Executive Member for Infrastructure and Environment Isabel Hunter said: “The travel planning team continues to work closely with the first school to encourage walking to school, and we have already seen a five per cent reduction in car use as a result of this effort.”

The extra controls should be installed early next year after statutory processes have been completed.

An event was held outside the school this week by local parking campaigner and parent Janet Dakers and road safety charity Brake to raise awareness of the problems.