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Anger as council rejects school's calls for road safety improvements

Bennet Carr, headmaster at King Edward VI School, demonstrated the hazard students face with the use of a manakin. Photo: Mark Williamson
Bennet Carr, headmaster at King Edward VI School, demonstrated the hazard students face with the use of a manakin. Photo: Mark Williamson

Calls for vital road safety improvements outside a Stratford school have been rejected by Warwickshire County Council, a decision branded as disgraceful by the headmaster.

Bennet Carr, headmaster at King Edward VI School, has long called for urgent safety improvements on Chapel Lane, warning that pupils’ lives are being put at risk by large vehicles mounting the pavement, just inches from the school gate.

The matter was brought to a head earlier this year following a near miss in when a pupil was almost struck by a bus mounting the kerb.

The problem stems from a line of parking spaces on Chapel Lane which when full, narrow the carriageway, forcing the drivers of large vehicles to mount the kerb on the opposite side of the road, or risk hitting the wing mirrors of parked cars.

For Mr Carr the solution is to suspend six parking bays during school during school hours.

However the council appear to have poured cold water on this idea after a recent letter to a parent from Cllr Jeff Clarke, portfolio holder for portfolio holder for transport and the environment, explained the council has no intention of making such a change.

His letter reads: “I understand that the parking situation in this location is of concern to the school and others locally. As a result of the concerns raised Warwickshire County Council have checked the geometry of Chapel Lane with comparison to vehicle dimensions as listed in the Metric Handbook, commissioned a risk assessment of the site and consulted with local representatives of the emergency services directly.

“The conclusion of these investigations is that Chapel Lane is wide enough to accommodate large vehicles and any vehicles which do mount the kerb do so by choice and not by necessity. If vehicles are mounting the kerb then instances of this should be reported to the Police Authority who has full powers of enforcement to deal with such a dangerous practice. There is therefore no road safety imperative for WCC to remove the parking spaces you refer to and the public amenity they provide.”

Confirming the council’s stance last week a spokesperson told the Herald: “The council has decided not to suspend the parking spaces on Chapel Lane, though this may be subject to review in the future.”

The council’s decision has been met with anger and dismay by the school, with Mr Carr branding it ridiculous.

Mr Carr said: “They are saying that it is driver choice to mount the kerb because the carriageway is wide enough for large vehicles, but the truth is drivers have the choice of mounting the pavement or knocking off people’s wing mirrors. Given that choice drivers are forced to mount the pavement.

“I would invite Cllr Clarke to come here and stand with me on the pavement for an afternoon because it would cause chaos, large vehicles simply wouldn’t be able to pass.

“I cannot believe the council want us to report every instance a large vehicle mounts the kerb, recent analysis of our CCTV system showed that this happened 84 times in one week.

“The decision not to suspend the spaces during school hours is purely a financial decision and I think that is a disgrace. I know public finances are tight but where pupil’s safety is concerned, money should not be a consideration. It’s just neglect on the part of the county council.

“If the council won’t suspend the spaces, I would call for them to install metal railings on the edge of the pavement, but they won’t because they know large vehicles would not be able to pass. As long as the safety of our students is being put at risk I will continue calling for these changes

The has been some cause for optimism this week though after the Stratford Tourist Bus, which regularly mounts the pavement outside the school, was permanently rerouted temporarily to avoid Chapel Lane.

There are plans to permanently reroute the bus, but a final decision was differed on Friday.

The move is something both KES and the bus company have been pushing for, though in his letter to the school parent, Cllr Clarke said this change has been proposed following a request by the bus company, not because of any safety concerns regarding its use of Chapel Lane.

Mr Carr added: “I applaud the council for rerouting the tourist bus, but that surely shows that they are aware there is a problem with large vehicles coming down Chapel Lane.”

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