Parents and children could benefit from improved road safety around two schools in Portsmouth thanks to proposed permanent School Streets set to be discussed at a forthcoming meeting.
School Streets work by restricting non-essential motor vehicles on a road or roads outside a school. This allows parents, carers, pupils and school staff to enjoy safer routes to school, and helps to develop quieter, cleaner streets with cleaner air.
Portsmouth’s School Streets were introduced in September 2021. Bramble Infant School and St Jude’s Church of England Primary School were the first to take part in the initial pilot schemes. Councillors will now discuss a permanent solution at a Transport Decision Meeting, and if approved, this will provide better opportunities for people to walk, wheel, cycle and scoot to and from school at drop-off and pick-up times, during school terms.
The initial School Street trials operated over seven-weeks and depended on volunteer stewards from the local community plus school staff to manage traffic using removable barriers. Despite positive feedback, many schools have struggled to extend their trials due to a shortage of volunteers.
Feedback has shown that most parents and residents strongly support a permanent solution for Bramble and St Jude’s, and the council has now carried out a review into alternative ways for a permanent School Street to effectively operate, without the need for volunteer stewards.
Following several months of engagement with both schools, the council has shared proposals for permanent School Streets with parents and residents at Bramble School. An engagement event at St Jude’s will take place this week. The draft designs propose using signs to restrict access to motor traffic in roads around the schools at drop-off and pick-up times. At Bramble School, bollards will manage traffic in Heyward Road and a new loading bay on Fawcett Road will enable deliveries to the nearby pharmacy.
The School Streets would be installed under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) for up to 18 months to monitor the effectiveness of the proposed infrastructure. These will be regularly reviewed to check how well they are working.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Cabinet Member for Transport, said “School Streets have been operating in Portsmouth for a couple of years and I’m pleased that we’ve received encouraging support from the local community. I look forward to discussing the proposals at the cabinet decision meeting”.
During the restrictions, access will be available for residents and business premises on the street, emergency services, school transport, blue badge holders, carers of residents who live in the street and people with specific requirements that have been pre-agreed with the head teacher.
Residents living within the School Street zone and needing to drive during the restrictions will be issued with special parking permits. Police would be able to issue tickets to drivers entering the School Street zone without a valid permit. However, the council hopes that lots of positive engagement with parents and alternative parking will ensure high compliance as it’s been proven to be successful in other cities.
The Transport Cabinet decision meeting takes place on Thursday 12 October.