The council has been forced to abandon one of the school street traffic restrictions which were due to come into force yesterday, following complaints from residents in Crystal Palace that Croydon’s online permit applications system contains significant flaws.
It was just before 6pm last night that the council issued a grovelling press release that admitted that all was far from well with the school street scheme at Harris City Academy Crystal Palace, a combined primary and secondary school off Maberley Road.
The scheme had been proposed and approved by Conservative Mayor Jason Perry back in December, together with nine other new “Healthy School Streets” around the borough.
There are now 42 school streets in Croydon, where access for vehicular traffic is restricted during term time in the mornings and afternoons, when pupils are arriving for school or leaving at the end of the day.
Motorists who drive into school streets at these times without a residents’ permit are subject to fines of up to £130 per offence.
According to the announcement from the council’s propaganda bunker last night, “Plans for 10 new schemes were approved, however following feedback from the community, one of the schemes will be amended and improved before it is put in place.
“The Harris City Academy Crystal Palace school street will see amendments to the design on Sylvan Road, based on local input from residents and community groups. The scheme will launch in a few weeks, and more details are expected to be released soon.”
Sources locally say that the reason for the Crystal Palace scheme being held up is yet another instance of bungling from the council’s roads department, which comes under director Steve Iles.
When planning the scheme, no consideration was given to the opinions of the vicar and worshippers at St John’s Church, on the junction of Auckland and Sylvan roads. They felt that the council had not thought through its proposals properly, as it could see people coming to funerals and other services being hit with one of the council’s PCN fines.
The most significant problem, though, was encountered by residents who were applying for exemption permits. The council’s online system did not have the correct streets and scheme parameters loaded into it.
“Residents who have been trying to apply for a permit keep being told that they do not qualify as they are not within the school street zone, when clearly they are,” according to one resident.
Claire Bonham, the Liberal Democrat councillor for the area, told Inside Croydon: “The communication on this from the council has been poor.
“I have repeatedly asked for a list of all the streets where the letters about the school streets have been delivered, but I’ve never been sent this.
“If it wasn’t from our leaflets and email updates to residents, some of them would not have known about it.”
The theory behind schools streets, just as with LTNs (or whatever rebranded acronym the traffic-restricted streets are known as this week) is sound enough. The implementation by Croydon’s blundering council has too often left much to be desired.
“Healthy School Streets aim to improve safety around schools and encourage more pupils to walk, cycle and scoot more often, by limiting motor traffic on the surrounding roads during school drop-off and pick-up times,” the council said.
The school streets that were introduced yesterday, without any Croydon Council balls-ups, and where unpermitted drivers could now face fines, are:
- Rockmount Primary School
- Kensington and Norbury High, Kensington Avenue Primary School
and Norbury High School for Girls
- Harris Invictus Academy Croydon
- Elmwood Infants and Junior Schools
- St James the Great Primary and Nursery School
- Harris Upper Norwood Academy (Beulah Hill Campus)
- Oasis Academy Byron, Coulsdon
- St Peter’s Primary, South Croydon
- Minster Nursery and Infant School, Old Town
- The Write Time School, Warrington Road
As with similar schemes, residents living within the area are supposed to be eligible to apply for a free exemption permit so they can have access to their road at all times.
The council tacitly admitted that this had not been the case in Crystal Palace.
“Anyone that lives within the boundaries of the Harris City Academy Crystal Palace scheme – including those who have applied for permits – will receive a letter from the council within the next few weeks with more information on next steps.” This suggests that the delay over this scheme could take months, rather than days.
More information on free exemption permits is available by visiting the council website by clicking here.
“Public consultation and data monitoring on the schemes’ effects is now underway,” says the council, which has been criticised for failing to monitor properly its other traffic-restriction schemes.
“For the next six months, formal objections, as well as feedback, can be submitted. Responses will be used to see if any improvements can be made.”
More information about Healthy School Streets can be found by visiting the council website by clicking here.
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Beware the march of Iles? How appropriate.
Oh dear did someone not implement it correctly? At least they owned up to getting it wrong which is a huge leap on past performance. Perhaps they will release the EQIA for this scheme in each place along with the impacts on the surroounding areas?
Perhaps not as usual.