Parking charges are '˜a danger to pupils'
Schoolchildren themselves presented a petition against a controversial new car parking charge which it is feared could put their safety in danger.
Pupils from Clayton-le-Woods CE Primary handed the names to the Cuerden Valley Park Trust.
The trust is set to bring in charges for its car park on Back Lane which historically has been used free of charge by parents dropping off and picking up their children.
The school - which takes in children from Leyland, Buckshaw Village, Clayton-le-Woods, Clayton Brook and Whittle-le-Woods - fears the move will force parents onto a nearby busy road with their vehicles, resulting in serious safety issues.
The school has now learned the Trust is pressing ahead with ANPR parking on all its car parks - offering a 25 minute grace period on the Back Lane car park, but completely removing one on the Town Brow car park.
The school claims the grace period is not workable. It argues that many parents would not be able to afford the charges, but its main fear is safety.
It says in a ‘briefing paper’ to supporters: “Staff and governors feel very strongly that these new arrangements will cause traffic chaos around the school, which is already a busy area at peak times. We fear for the safety of children trying to make their way to school and urgently seek your assistance in getting Trust to reconsider their position.”
“We do not think it should take an accident to happen before our concerns are taken seriously.”
Headteacher Sue Pennington said: “We just want to find a way forward for the safety of the children.”
In a statement, the Trust said: “The introduction of parking charges at Back Lane comes after 12 months of discussion with the school’s board of governors.
“We recognise that these days a school needs a car park and we offered to lease the site at Back Lane, which is used every day by staff and parents, to the school.
“We thought this made perfect sense, but the board of governors declined to take up a lease, which left us with no choice other than to start charging.
“However, we have offered 25 minutes free parking at any time of the day which should be plenty of time for parents to pick up and drop off, and discounted parking permits for regular users which works out at roughly 50p a day. We think this is a fair and reasonable compromise.
“We are not removing any off-road parking spaces, we are simply enforcing payment for use of our facilities. Income from car parking is a major part of the money needed each year to keep the park going for the benefit of all the communities of central Lancashire.”
It continued: “On Friday an impressive petition was very eloquently presented to me by some of the older pupils at the school, urging the Trust to reconsider its position for the sake and safety of children at the school.
“As a result I have written to Lancashire County Council and the Diocesan Board of Education asking them to intervene, as clearly child safety is a matter for the Education Authority, Highway Authority, and Diocese to be aware of. I have asked them to attend any further meeting between us and the school and I await their reply.”