Dad calls for action against ‘car crushing’ outside Newcastle schools – a year after council pledge

A Newcastle father has called for action to finally put an end to a ‘car crash’ outside his son’s school.

Newcastle City Council announced more than a year ago that it would prevent parents from driving to pick up or drop off their children at the gates of 11 schools, in the hope of improving child safety, reduce harmful air pollution and encourage more people to walk or cycle. The ‘School Streets’ scheme would have seen vehicles blocked on roads outside schools between 8am and 9.30am and between 2.30pm and 4pm, with the scheme initially due to be introduced in the summer of 2021.

But, since the program was announced by local authorities in March last year, progress has been minimal – with only a handful of one-day trials. Kieran McSherry, whose son Leo attends Hotspur Primary School in Heaton, is growing frustrated with the delays and said ‘it doesn’t make sense for the council to talk about changing people’s habits but don’t does nothing to do so”.

Read more: Plea for Newcastle parents to ditch school cars as children pay ‘huge price’ for pollution

The 35-year-old added: ‘It’s disappointing to see there’s a jumble of cars every day taking up all the road space. There is no space if you want to cycle and it can feel quite unfriendly.

“We live in a city and in a society where the car is king, our cultural flaw is to drive from your front door to the school gates. People can’t see past that and that’s well as our roads are designed too.

Mowbury Street in Heaton, next to Hotspur Primary School

“The council says they want to change that, but they don’t seem to be doing anything about it. Surely it’s not that bad to change? It simply blocks vehicles from a street a few times during the day.

Mr McSherry lives in Fenham and cycles across town to school, sometimes taking several children on a shared cargo bike with other families. The architect, who also has a one-year-old daughter, said hostile scenes of ‘parents screaming and people fighting to get into their cars’ outside Mowbray Street school mean youngsters “can’t be kids until they’re inside the school fence”.

Other primary schools included in the initial list of 11 were Ravenswood, Chillingham Road, Grange Park, Kingston Park, Dame Allan’s, Sacred Heart, Broadwood, Lemington Riverside, Farne and Westgate Hill. The city council has not given a new target date for the introduction of all school streets.

A spokesperson said: “Since announcing our intention to set up School Streets last year, we have worked directly with the schools we had identified as a first phase of the program. One of the most important things about delivering this program is working with people who might be affected and listening to their concerns so we can address them.

“A member of our team regularly visits schools and works with teachers, young people and those who live nearby to help understand the impacts and how we can promote and manage school streets, or even where they might not be. the right solution at this point in time.We have also undertaken school street trials at a number of locations.

“We were waiting for the government to formally transfer some enforcement powers to local authorities and fund such measures, which we are happy to see has now been brought forward. Many schools have told us they would like to see these powers in place alongside the implementation of programs to help keep students safe.

“Hotspur Primary School pupils are currently leading the way in our Big Walk and Wheel competition, with nearly two-thirds of active trips. This is a competition we run with schools that have signed up across the city and complements the ongoing work we are doing with the city’s Promise Board, which represents all of the city’s trusted schools. , to propose a common approach to improving the safety and sustainability of school operations.

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