Top councillor confident Harrogate's first ‘safer streets’ scheme for schools will improve pupils safety
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After announcing the council had decided to trial the county’s first such scheme at Oatlands Junior School from September, North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for highways and transport, Coun Keane Duncan said he was optimistic about the positive impact the pilot would have on pupils’ safety going to and from school.
“The School Streets pilot is a positive step forward that represents strong community action,” said Coun Duncan.
“It is a result of the close partnership the council has recently established with all Pannal Ash and Oatlands area schools, local councillors and residents.
“We are optimistic about the positive impact that the pilot will have on road safety around Oatlands Junior School and feel it will be a vital step in promoting more sustainable journeys for children and families.”
The initiative will see Beechwood Grove, which neighbours the school, closed to traffic from 8.30am to 9am and 3pm to 3.45pm in term time to create a safer environment and encourage more children to walk, cycle or scoot to school.
Residents, school staff, blue badge holders, school transport and the emergency services will be exempt from the closure.
Road signs will be erected at the entrance of Beechwood Grove prior to the pilot and permits will be issued to those who qualify for access during the closure times
The initiative, which is being adopted by many councils across the UK, promotes a heathier lifestyle, reduces congestion, improves air quality and leads to a better environment for all road users.
Tory Coun John Mann, who represents Oatlands and Pannal on North Yorkshire Council, said: “We have been working with the local community to improve road safety and traffic management at school start and finish times.
“We want to see children having more freedom to walk, bike or scoot to school.
"We look forward to seeing the pilot in operation at the start of the new academic year.”
The move has been welcomed by residents campaigning for better road safety around schools in south and west Harrogate after a series of accidents in which pupils have been injured.
Two groups – Oatlands Road Safety and Active Travel Campaign, led by Hazel Peacock, and Pannal Ash Safe Streets Zone, led by Dr Jenny Marks, have been working closely with headteachers and North Yorkshire Council on that goal.
Leading Harrogate Lib Dem Coun Pat Marsh, who represents the Stray, Woodlands & Hookstone division, said: “I was thrilled to be able to help with this scheme, to help with the safety of young children attending the school.
"When Hazel Peacock approached me about the funding I was only too pleased to give some of my Locality Budget to get the scheme off the ground.
"It has been an honour to work with Hazel who has been the amazing lead in this whole project.”
Earlier this year, 20mph vehicle activated signs were installed in Pannal Ash.
A host of other safety measures will be delivered in the coming financial year including a parallel crossing on Oatlands Drive and a signal crossing on Slingsby Walk and Wetherby Road.
The existing lining on Hookstone Road will be refreshed, and the introduction of double yellow lines will be considered.
As the nearby bridlepath is a key walking and cycling link to the school, additional signs will be installed, and vegetation cut back.
The trial at Oatlands Junior School will be launched at the start of the academic term on Wednesday, September 6.