Can the Executive member for education please update the residents of the Maiden Erlegh Ward on the second stage of the expansion of our primary schools to meet the ever increasing demand resulting from being one of the best Education authorities in the south of England?
Can the Executive Member for education please update the residents of the Maiden Erlegh Ward on the second stage of the expansion of our primary schools to meet the ever increasing demand resulting from being one of the best Education authorities in the south of England?
Two schemes were agreed by Executive on 28 January 2016 to increase primary capacity in Earley. The first, at Loddon Primary School is progressing well and additional places were offered for September 2016, which is very positive. The second, at Aldryngton Primary School is in development. The transport and design consultants are addressing two significant challenges. Firstly, parking for additional staff (six spaces) and credible measures to manage school run traffic are required. Secondly the new school buildings and additional car parking required present a challenge in terms of retaining the necessary amount of formal and informal play space.
At Aldryngton, traffic congestion is a local issue, with two schools on the site and the main access road through a small shopping parade. Transport consultants have completed their initial assessment and are currently working on solutions to the issues that have been identified. This work will feed into the design feasibility work. Once this is complete officers will take stock, determining if not only viable traffic solutions do exist but also if there will be sufficient play areas. In the interests of the local community and future generations of children it is vital that satisfactory proposals emerge before the scheme progresses.
I had intended to ask when the plans were likely to be finalised, but in light of the answer I would like to ask: a local school is supposed to service the local community, not the other way round. Bearing in mind that only children living 0.22 miles, that’s less than a quarter of a mile, are gaining entrance this year, surely there is no need for major traffic alterations as, apart from the teachers’ cars you have mentioned, everyone should be able to walk there?
In an ideal world, every parent and student in this scenario, particularly at a primary school, would indeed choose to walk. But, as we all know, this does not happen, unfortunately. Indeed, when we surveyed parents, back when we wrote the original primary school strategy, parents said that they all wanted to have a local school and walk or cycle to it. In reality, this is not what happens. A vast majority of our parents choose to get in the car and drive to the local primary school, even if it is just a short walk, even 0.22 miles down the road.
As we know from the Chief Executive of the LEP here this evening, this is a very vibrant area and people will get in their car and do the school run on the way to work. Unfortunately, without changing the habits of every single parent in our community, I do not think that this is going to happen. So, regrettably, unless we reverse this trend on a permanent basis, I do not think that we will see a reduction in parking spaces in the future. If we did I would be enormously grateful and we would have much more money in the Capital pot to do many other projects around the Borough. So, perhaps some local work on persuading parents to start walking a bit more to school?