School traffic could soon trap us indoors

Swindon Advertiser: Pipers Way Residents’ Association meeting. From left, Noel Gardner, Ed Gerrad, Brian Mattock, Peter Mallinson, Rod Bluh, Linda Barber, Paul  Ditson and Nadine Watts Picture: THOMAS Buy this photo » Pipers Way Residents’ Association meeting. From left, Noel Gardner, Ed Gerrad, Brian Mattock, Peter Mallinson, Rod Bluh, Linda Barber, Paul Ditson and Nadine Watts Picture: THOMAS

RESIDENTS will be trapped in their homes by gridlocked roads if a proposal to speed up the intake at Croft School goes ahead, it is claimed.

Colin Doubleday, the chairman of Pipers Area Residents’ Association said a proposal to bring forward the date for the school to reach its full capacity to September 2015 – three years ahead of schedule – could have disastrous effects for residents.

The Old Town primary school had proposed to boost its pupils with an extra 60 students annually until it reached its full capacity of 420.

Colin said when plans for the school went before the council’s planning team residents were told a condition of it opening was for a steady increase to allow for the authority to monitor the traffic to make sure it did not have a negative effect on residents.

“The whole thing is a complete farce,” said Colin, of Old Town.

“When this school was proposed, local residents and our MP repeatedly raised concerns about the local roads which were and are unable to cope with the then predicted 33 per cent of pupils coming by car.

“To counter this, Coun Dale Heenan repeatedly stated that this was a phased opening beginning in 2012.

“There would be seven years of annual traffic checks to allow considered management of any traffic problems as they arise.”

He said the authority has failed to carry out these checks and, according to a council report, about 58 per cent of parents drive their children to school, rather than the predicted 33 per cent.

“This is going to lead to more than 900 car journeys every day,” said Colin. “There is going to be gridlock with people being trapped in their homes for an hour each morning and evening.”

He said matters were made worse by the school launching the consultation and not informing residents about it until a local councillor intervened.

Coun Dale Heenan, who chaired the planning committee which passed the proposals, said: “At no point has anyone said anything about student numbers being a planning condition, and everything about Croft School is explicitly set out in writing and in the public domain.

“There should be no misunderstandings and I sincerely hope someone isn’t trying to be mischievous about a local school. A school which is now so popular that they would like to open all forms in each year to allow more children to attend.

“This is something that should be supported by all residents. “ Coun Fionuala Foley, the cabinet member for children’s services, said as Croft School is now an academy its jurisdiction is outside the council’s control.

“It is not for us at the council to say what an academy should or shouldn’t do,” said Coun Foley. “It is up to them to decide their own admission policies as the academies are self governed.”

The consultation runs until January 29. Visit www.the whitehorse federation.org.uk/ policies.php.

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