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Monday, 28 July 2014

Residents’ anger at school traffic chaos

DAMNING photographs showing the parking chaos outside Prudhoe High School put Northumbria Police and school transport operators under fire on Tuesday.

Prudhoe High School

The photographs were produced by a campaign group opposed to the siting of a world class £2.5 million media centre at the school.

And while the group failed to prevent the scheme being given the go ahead by the county planning committee, the pictures – showing buses parked on double yellow lines and cars on the pavement – outraged councillors.

Coun. Jeff Gobin said: “These pictures are truly frightening – it’s absolute chaos, with cars on the pavement and buses on yellow lines.

“People with buggies or wheelchairs simply couldn’t get past.

“It’s no good putting down yellow lines if the restrictions are not enforced.

“Let’s get a few parking fines imposed, and they would soon stop what they are doing.

“The police always seem to have excuses why they can’t do something, not how they can.”

Coun. Wayne Daley called for the coach operators on the pictures to be forcefully reminded of the terms of their school contracts.

He said: “We should take enforcement action to stop them parking on yellow lines, and ensuring they arrive at the school at the correct times.”

The photographs were circulated to committee members by the action group, whose spokesman Andrew Scott told the committee: “School buses and coaches clog Moor Road and Park Lane well in advance of the end of the school day.

“This causes many problems for residents, and more importantly, puts the health and safety and other pedestrians at risk.

“Buses and coaches park on double yellow lines, across the driveways of residents and have even double parked when children are alighting the vehicles.

“This development will bring another 100 children to add to the 1,000 which are already there.”

Mr Scott pointed out that the school day began at 6am, when the caretaker opened the gates, and often did not end until 11pm, when people left the school “tooting horns and scorching off down the road.”

The objectors said that while the building had been described as an eco-friendly construction, in reality it was anything but.

Beautiful cherry blossom trees had already been felled to prevent birds and bats nesting, and other trees netted for similar reasons.

They argued that more suitable sites were available, notably the former Eastwoods Middle School in Prudhoe, which had been empty and disused for two years.

It offered a better access, and there would be less pressure on space.

However, Coun, Paul Kelly, of Ovington, said the high school was the logical place to put the media centre, as it was a centre of excellence.

He noted that like all schools, Prudhoe’s pupil numbers were dropping, so the additional 100 people would help make the school more viable.

The development would also provide an opportunity to reduce nuisance problems in the Moor Road area.

County highways representative Dick Frazer said he was satisfied that the additional traffic could be accommodated at the school without causing any additional disruption.

The centre will be operated by Tynedale Virtual College which is a collaboration of Haydon Bridge, Prudhoe, Hexham and Ponteland high schools, Northumberland College, Dilston College and other work-based training providers.

The college would provide a variety of teaching facilities including an ICT room, art based areas, presentation spaces, TV and radio studios, control rooms and an incubator suite for use as small offices for starter businesses.

It was intended for 14-19 year olds doing a diploma course in creative and media skills.

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