‘Is it going to take a child being killed’ – parents express concerns over school parking

A GROUP of parents and the headteacher at a primary school have called on council chiefs to tackle parking issues around the school before there is a serious accident.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 4:00 pm

The group from Portsdown Primary School says vehicles are mounting pavements, driving too fast and are being parked illegally on double yellow lines and on the entrance zigzags - all at a time when children are leaving school. The situation has already resulted in minor accidents and several near-misses.

Headteacher Ash Vaghela said: ‘This is a serious concern. Recently one child got hit by a car and fortunately they were not seriously injured. I’ve expressed my concerns to the council and I certainly believe they could be doing more to support us.’

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Shelley Doney, 36, decided to contact the council after two incidents involving her own children.

‘A few months ago my four-year-old daughter was hit by a car door after the driver pulled onto the pavement,’ she said. ‘My five-year-old son was nearly hit by a car after they swung round onto the pavement - the car was inches away.

‘Is it going to take a child getting killed before something is done?’

With no zebra crossings or crossing patrol officers outside the school, parents have said roads are a potential ‘minefield’.

Headteacher of Portsdown Primary School Ash Vaghela with parents, from left, Cherilee Loveridge, Shelley Doney and Emma Giles with her daughter Robyn Smith, 14 months. Picture: Sarah Standing (130220-7521)

Cherilee Loveridge, 23, who has two children at the school, said: ‘It’s an absolute nightmare trying to cross the road. Cars park over dropped kerb crossing points and on double yellow lines so you can’t see what is coming. On a few occasions I’ve went to step out and had to pull my children back.’

Emma Giles, whose five-year-old daughter attends Portsdown, added: ‘There’s a couple of times I’ve seen a child nearly get hit – it’s a real concern.’

For Sueanne Pettitt, 36, it’s the reckless driving which is the biggest issue.

‘People simply drive far too fast,’ she said.

Parents are concerned for their children's safety Picture: Sarah Standing (130220-5687)

People parking illegally outside the school has resulted in a number of occasions where children returning from school trips have not been able to get dropped off at the gates.

Mr Vaghela said: ‘The coaches simply couldn’t get through. In the instance of a fire it would be really difficult for a fire engine to get access to the school.’

While parents have called for a zebra crossing and the deployment of a crossing patrol officer, Mr Vaghela feels a programme of education and increased monitoring could be the answer.

Parents are concerned for their children's safety outside Portsdown Primary School in Cosham Picture: Sarah Standing (130220-5702)

‘More traffic wardens at the end of the school day would help, as would the installation of cameras to monitor illegal parking along the whole road,’ he said. ‘Road safety is a key part of our curriculum but more needs to be done to educate drivers about the dangers of how they drive and park around schools.’

The council said it had installed cameras to monitor zigzags and that it ‘regularly gives penalties to drivers who commit offences’. As well as promoting the Pompey Monster Walk to School Challenge to reduce traffic, council chiefs have said they are also improving pedestrian access to encourage more people to walk to school.

A spokesman said: ‘We're planning several improvements to make the route to school safer. This spring we'll install more railings on Sevenoaks Road and Pasteur Road along the bottom section of the hill. We'll also adjust the lights at the crossing over Pasteur Road, near Southampton Road, so pedestrians have shorter waiting times.

‘We then plan to lay a proper path across the grass on the west side of Sevenoaks Road which will lead to a new pedestrian crossing at the traffic lights further up the hill, near the hospital.’