School plans to cut the cars

Abbeyfields First School launching a new traffic management plan with (r-l) Deputy Head Sheelagh Halliford, Head Sandra Ford, Business Manager Mairi Gibson and school Governor Coun Andrew Tebbutt.  GM020319

Abbeyfields First School launching a new traffic management plan with (r-l) Deputy Head Sheelagh Halliford, Head Sandra Ford, Business Manager Mairi Gibson and school Governor Coun Andrew Tebbutt. GM020319

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SCHOOL officials are giving a lesson in traffic management in a bid to go car-free.

The new school year does not begin for another week, but Abbeyfields First School in Morpeth is already making plans to keep congestion to a minimum.

A number of measures have been introduced to encourage families to Go Smarter To School and a large banner advertising the campaign will greet them at the gates when the new term begins on Tuesday.

Pupils will be urged to walk, cycle or even scoot to school instead of making the journey by car and children will be involved in setting up and promoting a Five-Minute Walking Zone to encourage those living with a reasonable distance of the school to leave the car at home.

For those living further away there will be a Park and Stride initiative to avoid people parking around the school gates.

Abbeyfields Headteacher Sandra Ford said: “With so many pupils coming to the school at the same time, many being dropped off by parents or carers in cars, we have real traffic congestion at both opening and closing time.

“We hope by encouraging parents and carers to think, and making some simple changes, we can improve the traffic congestion around Abbeyfields and make all our children safer.”

The new measures have been adopted to try to ease congestion problems as the school is situated in the middle of a residential estate and has limited parking facilities nearby.

The school is full and even more children will be attending from next week, with a considerable number coming from outside the normal catchment area.

Northumberland County Council has recently re-painted the on-street parking restriction lines to make it clear to motorists that they should not park there, even for a short period, and county Schools’ Travel Plan Adviser Tracy Aitkin is working with Abbeyfields to develop a comprehensive approach for managing traffic at peak times.

Abbeyfields governor and town and county councillor for the area Andrew Tebbutt said: “Sadly, it only takes a few people to park irresponsibly to make the area around our school quite dangerous for those who are walking to school.

“We also have to remember other residents, and in particular the elderly people who live in the sheltered housing units immediately adjacent to Abbeyfields.

“We are working closely with the county council civil enforcement officers and the police to make our school a safer place. A number of other innovative ideas are still being looked at because we recognise the very limited parking space immediately adjacent to the school.”

The school will promote the benefits of walking, cycling or scooting to school, such as increasing the amount of exercise families get, reducing congestion, improving air quality near the school and providing an opportunity to teach good road safety hazards.