School run street closure ruled out by Southend Council

A Southend school’s hopes of closing the road outside to boost safety for pupils has been dashed after Southend City Council ruled out the proposal.

Rob McMullan, Lib Dem councillor for Eastwood Park, has been campaigning for Eastwood’s Benvenue Avenue, outside Heycroft Primary School, to become a “school street” where traffic is prohibited for 45 minutes as children arrive and leave school.

Several “school streets” have been successfully implemented across the city where bad parking by parents has endangered children, including West Leigh School and Greenways Primary School.

At a Southend full council meeting, Cllr McMullan stated Benvenue Avenue in Eastwood suffers from “very dangerous parking” and leadership at the school is keen on trying out the scheme.

However, Kevin Buck, Tory councillor responsible for highways, transport and parking, said Heycroft Primary School was an “unsuitable” location for a school street. However, he is fully supportive of the scheme being rolled out to more Southend schools.

“Every school needs to be evaluated based on its own merits within the constraints of its highway geography, as well as largely having the support of the school, the residents and the parents, who would need to volunteer to mange it on a daily basis”, he said.

“I’m unclear at the moment if this has been the case with Heycroft School. As it currently stands, the conditions at the Heycroft School mean it is unable to pass the safety requirements needed to implement a full school streets scheme, which would include a full road closure of Benvenue Avenue.

“We will continue to monitor the situation.”

Cllr McMullan vowed to explore other ways of keeping youngsters safe and is set to meet with the school’s headteacher.

He said: “I’ve got a meeting booked with the headteacher in April after the school holidays.

“I have to accept the Government criteria isn’t met. I do know that in years gone by the school had an arrangement with nearby Morrisons whereby parents could use the car park and then walk the kids up. It may be that we might discuss that as as an option. I’m certainly not letting it lie.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter