Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this in Haslemere

From This is Surrey Today: Reigate primary school parking problems reach breaking point

PARENTS are demanding action over school-run travel chaos at an expanding primary.

Gridlock in the roads leading to Wray Common Primary School in Reigate is reducing parents and residents to shouting matches in the streets, and with cars sometimes mounting pavements to get through, some fear it is only a matter of time before a child is hurt.

The school, which is situated in residential cul-de-sac Kendal Close, will in September be taking an extra class for the third time in four years, meaning an additional 90 children coming and going.

The council installed some bollards last year and provided 20 extra bicycle spaces at the school, but parents say it is not enough.

Mum-of-two Tess Powell, who lives in nearby Windermere Way, said: “There is complete gridlock and people start to lose their patience.

“There have not been any accidents yet, but there have been quite a few near misses.”

Two months ago the school formed a travel plan action group, made up of staff and parents, to look at the issue.

Member Vanessa Naylor, who has two children at Wray Common, said the school was doing “everything in its power” to ease the problem, but blamed roads and education authority Surrey County Council for neglecting the issue.

“They have been most remarkable by their absence,” she said.

“What we want is advice, support and real partnership – and it is just not forthcoming.

“There are daily instances of cars mounting kerbs. Tempers are flaring.

“There have been at least three occasions when there have been stand-up arguments, with people effing and blinding at each other while there have been children walking into school.” Nicola Wood, whose two children go to the school, said: “It is a huge problem. If nobody parked in the first part of Windermere Way and Kendal Close, people could come in and out.

“But as it is, just seven parked cars means the whole school is in gridlock.

“We have asked if we can have a single yellow line here for an hour, it would be so simple.”

Windermere Way resident Madeleine Rijndorp said the parking was “completely uncontrollable”, and that she had regular run-ins with parents, who she “loathes with a passion“.

A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “The school’s location makes it very difficult to solve this issue without creating others. Introducing parking restrictions in neighbouring roads would probably just move the problem, and residents would be unlikely to welcome them outside their homes.

“And such restrictions only work if they are adhered to and enforced.”

The council pledged to look at other possibilities as part of an upcoming parking review, and its local community road safety officer has been working with the head teacher to provide road safety training and encourage initiatives such as the “walking bus”.

No one from Wray Common Primary School was available to comment.

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3 Responses to Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this in Haslemere

  1. Paul M says:

    Perhaps the school has considered it, but they might do well to speak to Sustrans, the sustainable travel charity, about “Safe Routes to School” – ways for the children to walk or cycle in safety, without undue exposure to traffic danger.

    Looking at the local road layout on Google Maps, it does rather apear that the school is buried in a warren of residential streets, so why is it necessary for parents to drive their children there? Or are they just being lazy?

    When I was a child, sadly not recently, we none of us thought twice about walking to school, or walking unaccompanied to a bus stop where we caught a bus some miles to school. I was walking from the age of 7 and taking the bus on my own a year later. I worry for my own children, that they can’t enjoy the same freedom and sense of adventure, and benefit from the exercise as well.

  2. grayswoodcommuter says:

    Paul M – Slight contradiction – ‘other parents’ are lazy, but you are driving your children with mild concern for their lack of freedom.
    The reason schools have this issue is admission policy which regularly prioritises church attendance and siblings over distance. You end up with children crossing paths to distant schools left right and centre.
    I think most parents these days have a lack of trust in strangers and wouldn’t dream of letting children walk anywhere.
    I agree with you though how regrettable it is, I walked 2 miles to and from every day from age 9 or 10… never did me any harm.
    In September we will become part of this ‘problem’. Now we live opposite a primary school, in September daughther 1 moves to St Barts, 1.5 miles away, can’t see her walking. I hear the St Barts drop off is no picnic either…

    Three possible solutions in this country, having also grown up in Holland:

    Cycle lanes, cycle lanes, cycle lanes.. oh and some bike parking please.

    Have a good weekend.

  3. Paul M says:

    On Cycle lanes, I couldn’t agree with you more. I would also not advocate a child walking from Grayswood to St Barts, not because of the distance but because of the fact that the last half-mile is on a road without a kerbed footpath. Of course, there is a respectable argument against cycling as well – there is something of a hill to go over on the way nto Haslemere. If somehow a route down to the railway line and alongside was feasible that would be more appealing.

    However, you are leaping to conclusions if you think I drive my children to school. All I said was that they do not walk or cycle.

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