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‘traffic chaos plan’ for school attracts criticism

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A PROPOSAL to combat traffic congestion outside Forest and Sandridge School during school pick-up and drop-off times has been criticised by local residents and town councillors.

The Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) put forward by Wiltshire Council proposes to introduce a ‘no stopping’ zone outside the school from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday; and ‘no waiting’ along Cranesbill Road from 8.30am to 9.30am, and again 2.45pm to 3.45pm, Monday to Friday.

However, residents say that the proposed restrictions on Cranesbill Road will not solve the problem, and will only move it elsewhere on the estate.

There has also been criticism from the town council about the original design of the school, which was built by a joint enterprise of housing developers and Wiltshire Council, for providing insufficient space at the school for parents picking up and dropping off their children.

At last week’s town council economic development and planning meeting, one resident told councillors, “It’s not going to make any difference. The ‘no stopping’ area outside the school – people can still park on the other side of the road! It’s not going to solve anything, it’s just going to move the problem. The only people that will be penalised are the residents.”

Representing the governors of Forest and Sandridge School, Paul Carter, explained that whilst Wiltshire Council is attempting to ease ‘friction’ between parents and residents, the proposal would only succeed in moving traffic to Skylark Road, Nightingale Close, and Snarlton Lane. “This isn’t a ‘solve all’ solution,” he said.

Town councillors, who had previously backed the proposed TRO in the pre-consultation phase, agreed to reverse their initial stance and write to Wiltshire Council asking that more work be done to support the school to improve the pick-up/drop-off provision.

Mayor cllr Jon Hubbard said, “The challenge is that the designers stuffed up from the outset! What we don’t have is a proper picking-up and dropping-off point for the school. And this proposal could make the problem significantly worse.”

Cllr Adrienne Westbrook added, “This proposal was sold to us as something that would solve the issue – but on reflection looking at it, it will not.”

However, the town council’s about-turn has received criticism from Wiltshire councillor for the Melksham Without North ward, Phil Alford. He told Melksham News, “I initiated this proposal by asking for double yellow lines to be drawn on the junction by Verbena Court; the highways department came back with the current proposal and this was initially supported by the town council a couple of months ago. 

“This happened during the pre-consultation phase with the town council and was the point at which any amendments could have been made by them. For them to change their mind on that position on Monday night (19th August) may have been a retrospective face-saving exercise, but unfortunately they have now missed the opportunity to make a difference and actually shape the scheme. 

“It is now out for a full public consultation as is. Having spoken with Wiltshire Council highways department I know they are keen to support residents and the school, so it is very important that anyone who has an opinion on this responds to the public consultation and submits their view. I am also happy to hear people’s views too and they can email me with those on Phil.Alford@wiltshire.gov.uk.”

The consultation is open until Monday 16th September. Feedback, quoting reference LJB/TRO/MELKskc, can be emailed to traffic orders @wiltshire.gov.uk, or posted to TRO Team, Highways & Transport, Sustainable Transport Group, County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN. Plans can be viewed at Melksham Library during opening times, or on Wiltshire Council’s website: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/ troconsultations/troconsultationmelkshamnowaitingnostopping.htm

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