Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Latest plans for Harrowgate Hill Junior School

Yesterday the three North Road ward councillors met with officers in the Town Hall to be briefed on the latest plans to deal with the chaos in the back lane serving Harrowgate Hill Primary School.

At the moment there is total confusion there at drop-off and pick-up times as cars attempt to drive in both directions along the lane, park in restricted areas and block residents' rear gates. Councillors and School Governors are united in fearing that one day an accident involving a child will occur here.

After what seems like years of campaigning, the Council has finally agreed that something must be done. However, the proposed solution has stirred up a certain degree of opposition.

The Council's plan is to build a new car park away from the back lane in the nearby corner of North Park. Access would be from Whessoe Road. A new entry gate into the school would be provided in the nearest corner of the school grounds. Parents and children would have a walk of 100 metres or so from the car park to the new gate. It is hoped that this will draw cars away from the back lane, especially if new road markings and enforcement under the new Civil Parking Enforcement regime, due to be introduced later this year, is effective.

However, this solution is not to everyone's liking. Although most parents and local residents are happy with the plans, The Friends of North Park are not happy about losing a chunk of flat, usable land within their park. They have every justification for holding that position. The park is there for the pleasure of the people of Darlington, not for the provision of car parking for a PFI school. The Friends believe alterations to the staff and visitors' car park within the school would provide a solution.

Discussions continue, but this has dragged on for so long and now we have a commitment from the Council that something needs to be done we mustn't lose this opportunity. It's going to cost money, and at the moment there is some. Who can say this will always be the case. I hope somehow that we can reach a solution which pleases, or at least doesn't displease, everyone.


Aeres said...

Just to declare an interest first up - I have a 3 year old son in the nursery section of the school who will hopefully be at the school for the next 7-8 years.

The first thing that is obvious is that your concerns are shared that an accident may well occur sometime in the future. The lane is completely chaotic with the clearly marked no parking areas completely ignored and no one-way system in place which would help a bit.

The problem as far as I can see with the proposed plan can be seen by taking a trip up to Asda and just observing the lengths that people will go to to avoid having to walk an extra 30 seconds. Drivers routinely park in the 'Pick Up' only area, Parent and Child area and even disabled areas in order to get as close to the doors as possible - even though there are hundreds of empty spaces just a little bit further away.

Similarly, the corner part of Asda car park is used as an unofficial car park for Whinfield School. My daughter went to Whinfield for 6 years and, once again, it was noticable that people were quite prepared to risk the life and limb of kids in order to desperately try to get a space close to the school.

From what you say, I fear the same will happen and the chaos will just transfer from the back lane to the car park. That's not to say that nothing should be done, but I think it's just selfish human nature at play and you may never change that. If you want a final example of this, take a look at the car park at the Education Village and look at the number of cars parked on the double yellow lines all around the roundabout (sometimes even on the inside too..). When challenged, (which is rare) the retort is always the same - 'I'm only going to be 5 minutes'.

miketually said...

Aeres, if you're only going to be five minutes you can park on double yellows. Everyone knows that! Ten minutes, if you put the hazards on.

Paul said...

How about walking to school? Nothing wrong with it when I was a kid.

miketually said...

You can't walk to school! Have you seen the traffic around a school?

You have to drive, to keep the children safe.

Anonymous said...

Isn't walking biking or using the bus a sign of failure ?