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Proposals to create ‘School Streets’ near Medway schools including The Pilgrim School in Warwick Crescent in Rochester

Residents could be fined for driving down their own roads under plans put forward to turn certain routes in Medway into ‘School Streets’.

A consultation has been launched for plans that would see cameras installed at the end of particularly busy school roads in Medway, in a bid to reduce congestion and make the streets safer for school children.

The roads would be closed during school drop-off and pick-up time, meaning residents, parents and even school staff would be banned from driving down the road, unless they apply for an exemption permit.

Eleven schools are being considered for the scheme but residents close to one of them fear it will only move the traffic problems further down the road.

Parent Katie Tolhurst lives near The Pilgrim School, in Warwick Crescent, Borstal, near Rochester.

She fears the plan has not been properly thought through and says stopping cars driving down the school’s road will merely push the problem to more dangerous roads nearby.

Katie, whose daughter attends the school, said: “I think this is an absolutely ridiculous plan and as a resident I am 100% against it.

Pilgrims School in Borstal is one of the school's using the scheme
Pilgrims School in Borstal is one of the school's using the scheme

“I am really concerned this has not been thought through and the safety of children being dropped off on an already busy thoroughfare in Wouldham Road has not been considered.

“This is already treacherous at most times of the day with many driveways being blocked already by inconsiderate drivers.”

The social worker, 43, added: “Perhaps concentrating on parking enforcement on Warwick Crescent would be a more cost effective use of taxpayers’ money than installing cameras and residents having to apply for an exemption to leave their properties by car within the proposed times.”

Lucie Jones, who lives opposite the school, said: “It’s frustrating for anyone living on these roads. Parents are up and down, parked everywhere and often carelessly.

“I do think it’s important to prioritise the people living by the school but I don’t think the way they’ve proposed to help is actually going to help.

Lucie Jones lives opposite the school
Lucie Jones lives opposite the school

“Maybe using some of the field as a car park or drop-off spot would be more beneficial for everyone than pushing the parking further and further up the road.”

A consultation document has been sent to residents of roads close to the sites of the proposed ‘school streets’ suggesting the aim of the scheme is to “reduce danger and ease congestion outside the school gates” as well as “reduce parking problems for residents and create a safer environment for children and parents to travel to school”.

It would mean the roads leading up to schools suggested in the scheme would be pedestrian and cycle-only areas from 8am to 9am, and 3pm to 4pm during term time.

Mounted static cameras will be sited at the entrance to the ‘school street’ along with signs explaining what time people cannot drive into the road.

“It’s a very restrictive time, especially the morning slot. It’s using a sledgehammer to crack a nut...”

The cameras will be live during the designated times and anyone entering or exiting will be fined. Exemptions can be applied for if you are emergency services or a resident or carer in the street.

Even staff at the school cannot enter the road during the specified times.

Fellow resident Gill Cain lives in Wouldham Road, at the top of Warwick Crescent, and says encouraging parents to park there is “hazardous”.

Gill, 63, said: “Cars are frequently scraped and have their wing mirrors knocked off because of the parked cars and speeding traffic.

“If Warwick Crescent is closed to people dropping off their children they will try to drop off and collect on the main road at the top of the hill, just outside the proposed zone in the already hazardous Wouldham Road and Borstal Street.”

She is worried for the safety of the children.

“It’s a very restrictive time, especially the morning slot. It’s using a sledgehammer to crack a nut...”

“If drivers already scrape cars and knock off the wing mirrors of parked cars it's ridiculous to think that children getting in and out of cars will be safe,” she said. “The obvious solution is to police the traffic controls that are already in place.”

Keith Butler, who lives in neighbouring Brambletree Crescent, is not impressed with the idea, suggesting it will cause problems for residents who may have tradesmen arriving in the morning or visitors coming to see them during those times.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It’s a very restrictive time, especially the morning slot. It’s using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

He suggested using simple parking restrictions such as yellow lines would be a more cost effective way to solve the problem.

The eleven schools taking part in the scheme are:

1.St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Greenfield Road, Gillingham

2.The Pilgrim School, Warwick Crescent, Borstal

3.St Peter's Infant School, Holcombe Road, Rochester

4.St Nicholas Church of England Infant School, Montford Road, Rochester

5.Miers Court Primary School, Silverspot Close, Rainham

6.Phoenix Primary School, Glencoe Road, Chatham

7.Burnt Oak Primary School, Cornwall Road, Gillingham

8.Hempstead Junior School, Birch Grove, Hempstead

9.St William of Perth Catholic Primary School, Canon Close, Rochester

10.St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, Bleakwood Road, Walderslade

11.Greenvale Primary School, Symons Avenue, Chatham.

The scheme would not be in place during school holidays or weekends.

The plans have been put forward thanks to £486,418 funding from the government’s Active Travel Fund.

Cllr Simon Curry
Cllr Simon Curry

Cllr Simon Curry, Medway Council’s portfolio holder covering transport strategy, said: “We are delighted to have received nearly half a million pounds to help make the roads around our schools even safer for children and their families.

“The proposed School Streets scheme aims to encourage more families to leave their cars at home on the school run and walk, cycle and scoot.

“As well as supporting our climate change aspirations and aim to help improve air quality outside schools, the project will also make Medway even more child-friendly.”

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