The School Run – Traffic & Parking! has published a number of articles this year about traffic issues in the village covering Heavy Goods Vehicles driving through our narrow streets and the 20’s Plenty campaign to lower speeds and improve safety. The one area we’ve not addressed to date is parking, particularly at school drop off and pick up times.

Additionally, The Star has recently published a Facebook statement announcing a decision to stop school traffic using its car park. The statement pointed out that “the car park is currently unsafe with large pot holes getting bigger each day” and this, together with access problems caused by school parking, had led to the decision.

We, therefore, sent one of our correspondents along to discuss the problems with Mrs Sue Spooner, Head teacher of Geddington School.

Sue opened the discussion by saying that the majority of parents who use cars, park responsibly and courteously. She explained, however, that “ever since I’ve been at the school, parking has been a live issue and I’m constantly looking for suggestions and ideas to ease the situation for villagers.”  The school has worked with the police to try and address the issue and a Police Community Support Officer regularly visits the school.  Sue added that “the children wanted to support the 20’s Plenty Campaign and, in addition, it was decided to consult parents on what might be done to ease the growing problem.”
Ideas received from parents were:

• The no parking bollards now placed around the Grafton Road, Wood Street junction.
• Double yellow lines along areas in close proximity to the school.
• A one way system through the village during drop off and pick up times.
• Finding places to park away from the roads surrounding the school.

The only suggestion that proved feasible, however ,was placing bollards around the Grafton Road/Wood Street junction, but it was acknowledged that even this had led to the parking problem going elsewhere. Sue stated that she would never give up and would continue to encourage parents who have to drive, to park for as short amount of time as possible!

Sue further explained that “Parents, who need to leave their children before morning school begins, use our Breakfast Club that opens at 7.50am. Parents of our younger children stay with them until the teacher welcomes them into school as requested by the school; they also like to see their child enter the building. Parents of older children rarely stay on the school site before school; many of their children walk to school and arrive just before 8.55am.”  Sue therefore believes that “opening the school playground earlier would not improve the parking situation.”.

Regardless, a significant number of parents clearly remain parked in the vicinity of the school longer than necessary both before and after 9am.

The demise of the walking bus was a sad loss, according to Sue, but she explained that “too few parents were prepared to volunteer to escort the children”. During the conversation however, Sue indicated that she would contact the Parents’ Association to ask for suggestions to improve parking, including the possibility of reviving the Walking Buses which might perhaps use the Village Hall and White Lion car parks if permission could be obtained.

In closing, Sue stated she was pleased that was raising the concerns of residents about parking as this would help to generate ideas and keep the issues in the forefront of the minds of all concerned.

Additionally the School Council and Eco Committee have welcomed the attention this article will give to the need for safe parking.