School safety scheme is ‘not the solution’

Dangerous parking concerns at Harriers Academy, Banbury. Claire Williams on the left, with concerned parents, grandparents and neighbours. NNL-140923-154055009
Dangerous parking concerns at Harriers Academy, Banbury. Claire Williams on the left, with concerned parents, grandparents and neighbours. NNL-140923-154055009

The launch of a new walking to school scheme means existing safety issues have just been moved to a new location, claim parents and residents.

Harriers Academy head teacher Alex Pearson told the Banbury Guardian last week it was setting up the road safety initiative. The hope was to give worried parents some relief, but since then both parents and residents have criticised the scheme.

Following an arrangement with Banbury Town Council, parents will be able to park at Horton View sports ground from Monday and walk their children to school from there.

But parent Claire Williams, who has three children at the school, said the new initiative is only transferring the problem to another area.

She said: “It’s just moving the parking situation from one dangerous road to another. When parking at Horton View you have to cross Easington Road which is used as a rat run, as is St George’s Crescent, and there are absolutely no safe crossings.

“I’ve said before that I don’t think it’s the right location. My fear is now the problem will be moved from Bloxham Road to Horton View.

“It’s going to be even worse with all the school buses there for Banbury Academy and Blessed George Napier.

“Also, a lot of parents come from Grimsbury and Ruscote – why would they want to pass the school to then have to walk back using a route that’s even less safe.”

Mrs Williams has previously been vocal about the safety concerns right outside Harriers, which is blighted by parents parking dangerously.

She and other parents have been campaigning for a walking bus but Oxfordshire County Council preferred the school to find a car park instead.

She said: “I just want to see the school being more proactive, targeting the parents who are parking dangerously outside the school in Harriers View.”

Mrs Williams added she had previously suggested exploring the car park by the Co-operative in Mewburn Road as a potential alternative.

She said: “There would be no difference in distance and there are no roads to cross until you get to the pelican crossing by Harriers. The school is also ruled by Banbury Academy, so why can’t parents park there? The school hasn’t really thought it through – it seems to be rushing everything.

“I think this is a knee-jerk reaction to recent stories and incidents in Bloxham Road but they’re stuck without support from the county council.”

She added she believes the school’s hands are tied and is critical towards Oxfordshire County Council for not taking the problem seriously.

After last week’s front page on the subject, Banbury Guardian reader Jennie Walsh said: “I have to ask whether anyone at the town council has consulted with the residents and business owners of Horton View?

“There is already a tremendous amount of traffic that congregates around Horton View at school drop-off and pick-up time with pupils from BGN and Banbury Academy.

“It is already dangerous for pedestrians around those times as parents park on corners and on pavements.

Surely it will only be a matter of time before there is an accident in which someone will get hurt.

“This is also exacerbated by people parking up and down Horton View who use the Hospital, staff and patients alike!”

>> Banbury Guardian reader Dave Woodman has also written a letter about the situation. Turn to pages 34-35.