Drivers ignore parking pleas

Photos of traffic congestion at peak times in Thornhill Road, Ponteland, taken by local resident Janet Dakers on December 2
Photos of traffic congestion at peak times in Thornhill Road, Ponteland, taken by local resident Janet Dakers on December 2

FRESH calls have been made to stop dangerous parking outside two Ponteland schools.

Local parents have reported some near-misses in recent days along Thornhill Road as some drivers are still ignoring requests to stop in a car park and walk for part of the journey.

The latest measure to try to tackle the problem is an extension of double yellow lines along the street, which was approved by Northumberland County Council’s Planning and Environment Committee on Tuesday.

This has been welcomed by one parent who is leading efforts to find a solution, but she insists something bigger needs to be done to ease the congestion.

Complaints about cars parking along Thornhill Road and on pavements when taking pupils to and from Richard Coates Middle School and Ponteland First School intensified when the first school moved from North Road to a site next to the middle school in 2007.

There is a high proportion of car-users among the parents and guardians taking their children to and from the schools as some of them travel from the Newcastle area.

Over the last few years, the schools and Ponteland North county councillor Richard Dodd have worked with parents to try to address their concerns and some have been stopping in the car parks at the Memorial Hall, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, St Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church and the Blackbird pub.

But Janet Dakers, who arranged an awareness day with road safety charity BRAKE last October, believes that provision needs to be made specifically for parents with schoolchildren.

She counted the number of cars outside the school and along Thornhill Road at the end of a typical school day and presuming a similar number came along in the morning, her total was just over 300.

“My child has been going to Ponteland First School for three years now and I’ve been raising the issue each year as the situation keeps getting worse,” she said.

“I have been informed of a number of near-miss accidents involving children, including two in one day, because of drivers parking on the pavement or doing dangerous U-turns.

“I do welcome the extension of the yellow lines and together with increased enforcement by the police and county council the situation will improve slightly, but it is only a short-term solution.

“The council needs to build a car park somewhere in Ponteland village if it insists on bringing people into our schools from outside Ponteland and it can be paid for from the out-of-area fees.

“Another suggestion put forward is a park and ride scheme that would use Rotary Way.

“There are a lot of angry parents, grandparents and local residents and we are considering putting together a petition to highlight our concerns.”

A number of residents living near the schools have requested hard standing areas to make up for a loss of parking on the highway.

In a report to the planning committee, the council said that they will be accommodated where funding is available.