Loughton School : an observation of the morning school run

The Parish Council recently received a complaint from a local resident about school drop off parking.

The resident complained :-

“The bends on Bradwell Road heading towards Linceslade Grove are generally parked up on both sides – gridlock ensued last week when a lorry was heading towards the School!

The car parks on either side of Bradwell Road are regarded by a not inconsiderable few as a second choice to parking on the pavements either side of the car parks, presumable to give a quicker getaway than the car parks. On Monday drop off there were around a dozen free parking spaces and yet four cars parked on the pavement. I have heard anecdotal complaint that when PCSOs / PCs have been at the school they have merely observed – no education and certainly no tickets. “

We discussed the problem in the full Parish Council meeting on Monday 16th October 2017 and I proposed to go down to observe the problem.

I chose the morning of Thursday 19th October because the weather forecast was for rain around the morning school drop off time and therefore I expected to see the problem at its worst.

I arrived at about 8.15am and stood near the junction of Bradwell Road where it meets Ashpole Furlong/Paynes Drive. The school gates open at about 8.30am, the doors or the school open at 8.40am and I think school starts around 8.50am.

It was cloudy and there was very light drizzle. It was quite grey so most cars still had their lights on as it seemed dark and gloomy.

From 8.15am until about 8.35am my impression was everything was going quite ok. The traffic was busy and moving with lots of bicycles, pedestrians and cars. It was busy but not gridlocked. There were lots of children of all ages making their way to Loughton and Denbigh schools. Some were on their own, some with parents, and some accompanied by young pre-school siblings.

At 8.35am, things noticeably changed and there was then what I would describe as a “mad 10 minutes”. A number of cars started to park on the pavement around the car park areas near where I was standing (on Bradwell Rd near the j/w Paynes Drive). One car parked on the zig zag lines in Paynes Drive

A Mercedes parked on the pavement – rather than using the car park – potentially forcing pedestrians into the road

A Nissan parking on the zig zag lines near Paynes Drive

A VW parked on the pavement – outside the car park

The owner of a BMW parked on the pavement outside the car park also. I offered the driver a leaflet from the Parish Council asking drivers to be considerate, which she initially refused to take. She was busy accompanying her daughter into the school and verbally abused me in front of her young child.

Another driver had parked right on the junction of Bradwell Rd and Ashpole Furlong – part on the pavement. When I spoke to that driver and pointed out that he was both blocking the pavement and creating a potential hazard for pedestrians crossing the road, and might be better to use the vacant space in the car park, he informed me he had paid his car tax and was therefore entitled to park where he liked!

By 8.50am the “moment of madness” had passed and serenity resumed.

My overall impression was that the complaint made by the resident about the parking of parents of the school making the drop-off was entirely justified. It seems parents were arriving at school at the last moment and trying to drop off their children in a great hurry and were not willing to try to consider parking in the car park but felt entitled to park on the pavements and/or close to the junctions. They seemed to be so focused on trying to do the school run in the minimum time that they were not really thinking about the safety of pedestrians, including particularly vulnerable road users, and young children.

It might help if some “no parking on the pavement” boards were erected just before the school run as well as some signs reminding parents of the importance of enabling young children to get to school and home safe and sound.

I will be passing on these observations to the management of the School and to the local traffic enforcement authorities at MK Council and Thames Valley Police. Lets hope together we can keep our children safe and avoid any serious injuries and accidents occurring.

 

 

 

 

 

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Site meeting : Loughton Millennium Meadow

© Copyright Malcolm Campbell

At 8.15 this morning I met with Chris Carvell, a Neighbourhood Management Officer from Milton Keynes Council, and Wayne, a Milton Keynes Council horticultural officer (who lives in Loughton) at the Millennium Meadow in Loughton

The Millennium Meadow was designed to be a wildflower meadow and it is owned and managed by Milton Keynes Council. A wildflower meadow needs regular maintenance. Wayne explained to me what is required: every 3 years the area needs to be completely rotavated and re-seeded in about March. This means that the wild flowers grow through to the summer months when there is a riot of flowers and colour. In the summer the weeds need to be sprayed and/or pulled out to reduce them seeding. In the autumn then the flowers need to be cut down and tidied up. Then the following 2 years the flowers should re-appear in the spring without the need for re-seeding but in the 3rd year the area will need rotavating and re-seeding again or else the grass and the weeds take over and the flowers are eliminated

Unfortunately Milton Keynes Council have not done the re-seeding of the wild flower meadow for several years. Chris explained their budgets were being cut all the time and unfortunately they now had to find a lowest cost option. The cheapest option in the Millennium Meadow would be to limit the maintenance to occasional hedge and shrub cutting and monthly grass cutting. Recently the Millennium Meadow was cut back so it is now looking tidy but it is not now the wildflower meadow it was intended to be

With a contribution from the Parish Council however, the Millennium Meadow could be restored to a wildflower meadow. The Millennium Meadow is close to Loughton School and we discussed the possibility of arranging for the children to plant the seeds in the spring. Wayne said this had been done elsewhere in Milton Keynes and the children had really enjoyed it. This might be an exciting activity for them and they would enjoy seeing the wild flowers grow into the summer. We discussed the effect the wild flowers would have on biodiversity – attracting butterflies, bees, birds and small mammals. Some of the shrubs planted are not suitable and it would be good to remove them and plant fruit trees instead. We agreed that Wayne would work out some options and Chris is keen to develop a 5 year plan so that the area receives regular and careful maintenance.

There are some wooden benches and tables which were installed by DW Bodleys & Sons in Bradwell Road. These could do with being rubbed down and treated to keep them in good repair and to stop them from rotting. This is something which possibly the Neighbourhood Action Group could do, with support from the Parish Council.

The work in rotavation and seed planting would take 4-5 people about a day’s work.

Chris and I agreed we would discuss the proposed plan and the costings. The current indications are that a modest level of planting might cost approx £1,200 – so this seems to be affordable for the Parish Council to make a contribution to restore the  Millenium Meadow to its original design.

Some “interpretation boards” could be erected to enhance the enjoyment of the area by explaining the species of plants that had been planted in the wildflower meadow, and explaining what to look for in the enhanced biodiversity the planting creates.

The photo above is © Copyright Malcolm Campbell

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