Neighbourhood Group step in to help school parking

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A city Neighbourhood Action Group has stepped in to help with dangerous parking outside of their local school.

People from the Loughton and Great Holm NAG , appalled at the parking situation at Holmwood Schoo in Great Holm, formed a Committee of all interested parties: Holmwood School (Staff and Parents representatives), Hilltops Medical Centre (doctors, administrators and patient representatives), the Parish Council, the Rainbow Pharmacy, Thames Valley Police, Milton Keynes Council and the Grebe public house. Along with the NAG these seven organisations set about finding solutions.

The problem had been exacerbated by the fact that the adjacent Hilltops Medical Centre had expanded, had reduced the number of dedicated doctors’ parking spaces and had also vastly increased its number of patients. In addition, Rainbow Pharmacy relocated to the Great Holm Medical Centre from Two Mile Ash so worsening the situation.

After many monthly meetings and three surveys of the car parking usage, the Group decided that a number of solutions were needed.

Firstly, to avoid the chaos of cars moving in all directions around the car park, a one-way system was introduced. Peter Ballantyne of Great Holm, Chairman of the NAG at that time said “this system is working well, the number of collisions has been reduced and parents and children are beginning to feel safer. There was also a problem with a school bus dropping off approximately 30 pupils at busy times, mostly being picked up by parents in cars. This drop off point has now been moved, considerably easing the situation.”

Cars displaced when the car park was full were causing a problem in nearby roads. Double yellow lines were marked to alleviate this problem but the cars had to park somewhere. Holmwood School has a Travel Plan which encourages parents to walk or cycle with their children to school, but so many children live outside the catchment area that private transport is the only realistic option. This is an outstanding school and is rightfully very popular with parents.

The main problem seemed to be that the 50 spaces marked out in front of the school, medical centre and the Grebe were grossly insufficient and could not be increased.

One of the surveys revealed that up to 15 of the spaces were occupied most of the day by Holmwood School staff.

Janet Newman, Head of Holmwood School suggested that the school car park could be extended to remove 15 cars from the public car park, thereby releasing the spaces for short term users to the Medical Centre and Pharmacy as well as parents dropping off and collecting their young children

To fund this car park extension, a grant of £10,000 was sought and agreed by the Big Lottery Fund and the balance was obtained by Loughton Parish Council through the ‘Match funding’ scheme operated by MKC.

Peter Ballantyne said that he was delighted with the final outcome. He added “This is the most ambitious project the NAG has undertaken. In terms of time and effort it exceeds the painting of the 400 yellow redway bollards in Loughton and Great Holm. We also planted 6000 spring bulbs around Great Holm.”

He added “Although these are a lovely sight, the safety of our children is very much more important and we are pleased with the success of the parking project. It shows what can be done when residents work together with local businesses and organisations to solve a common problem. I should like to thank everyone who helped in any way”