Monday, 5 May 2014

Old Buckenham and school parking

Report on village meeting
There was a Village Meeting on Wednesday 23 April in the Village Hall to discuss the current situation with the village hall car park. These notes of the meeting have been provided by Steve Milner who hopes that he has not missed anything out and that all the salient points have been covered.
The meeting was opened by Steve Milner who welcomed the 80 to 90 people, in particular Chris Hey, Stephen Askew, and two members of Norfolk Police. It was explained that the aim of the evening was to find a workable solution to the village hall car park usage and not to discuss the relocation of Chapel Road School.
It was clarified that the village hall car park is for village hall use only, there are no agreements that give parents dropping off and collecting school children the right to use the car park.
The car park is often completely unusable at drop off and collection time, the heavy usage has seriously damaged the surface and village hall users are getting trapped in the car park.
The village hall is starting to see booking problems because of the car park blockages and the Village Hall Committee has decided that action needs to be taken. Parents were complaining about the condition of the surface and complaints were being received about the parking of village hall users. Hopes that the new school moving to the adjacent site could offer a solution appeared to be misplaced and therefore a warning was given that the car park was to be closed.
Chris Hey of Norfolk County Council (Children’s Services) said he was aware of residents’ feelings following the recent Annual Parish Meeting. Further discussions are planned for May and the next public consultations will be in June. Local Breckland councillor Stephen Askew has been instrumental in drawing together the interested parties to try and work out a solution. Cars dropping off kids for school is a problem all over the country. The Council have a position that they do not provide parking places for parents - this was a red line and there will be no movement on this without instruction from the County Council management. He believed there are ways that he can help alleviate the problems that Old Buckenham are having. In the long term car usage must reduce and schools are being engaged to work on this. The County Council will not micro-manage this local issue but they will support and help.
A question and answer session raised issues on the Chapel Road School relocation, road safety (the Parish Council have a group working on this), patrol crossings (present numbers do not justify but further counts will be asked for at other crossing points), general road safety and speeding (need to work on signs and to include the school). One important point is that if people witness a road incident or near miss, they must report it. It was suggested that these be reported to the Parish Council. Parents must start to use the crossings before there is any chance of a patrol.
Heated speeches were made about the impending move with what appeared to be significant support. Various ideas were put forward to resolve the car park issue. These included generating a true drop-off system/pick-up system and the parents beginning to ‘hire’ the car park with a view that any money raised would be earmarked for maintenance.
It was decided that a group made up of parents and members of the Village Hall committee would be set up to work through the details. It was pointed out that the Village Hall had some requirements that were cast in stone:
  • all cars parked must have an exit route
  • a number of spaces would be village hall only
  • a number of spaces will be disabled
  • there must be total respect for any car park marshalls
  • parents would be responsible for fee collection and making payment to the village hall
  • the parents would develop a permit system and police the parking
  • any dissention or aggressive behaviour to persons trying to set up and police the parking will not be tolerated.
The village hall management reserve the right to stop working on this issue and revert to a parking ban. Any non-compliance with the points above would result in notice being served that the parking ban will be re-instated.
The committee voted to support this initiative and defer the ban for another two weeks. Volunteers to work on the proposals were identified and agreed to meet within a few days.
The Primary School Head, Paul Andrews, supported actions to generate a drop off system. He also supported an idea for the children to design road safety poster ideas.
The following were the main points needing action:
  • count the numbers of children crossing
  • produce road safety signs and work with the schools to create posters
  • parents are asked to keep writing to council officials over the safety issues
  • incidents or near misses to be reported to Derek Smalley of the Parish Council.

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