A step forwards

IMG_2006-2Councillor Gomez (right) with others involved in the campaign

The park-and-stride scheme at Churchfields Junior School was implemented a year ago. Here Councillor Rosa Gomez (Churchfields ward, Labour) reflects on the improvements it has made to road safety

As a local councillor, I have many responsibilities, but one issue particularly close to my heart is the safety and general well-being of children. This takes many forms, including campaigning to improve the quality of the air we breathe and striving for better road safety.

Children under the age of 16 are the most vulnerable group of pedestrians on our roads, with the most dangerous time being after school. And after a long period of decline nationally, the number of those who are tragically killed or seriously injured has started to increase again in recent years. This worries me.

As a governor at Churchfields Junior School, I have campaigned with parents and staff for measures to help protect children as they arrive and leave school. As was the norm at many schools, it was common to see – and smell – idling cars lined up close to the school gates and parents doing U-turns even as children were crossing the road or cycling past. I know of several incidents where vehicles struck children, and how many near misses have there been? It seemed only a matter of time before there was a serious injury or fatality.   

Churchfields is an excellent school and I’m pleased so many children walk, cycle or scoot to and from their lessons. But there will always be occasions when children need to be dropped off or picked up. That is why I was so pleased to see the park-and-stride scheme initiated a year ago, which allows parents and carers to use the Derby Road car park free of charge at drop-off and pick-up times. Redbridge Council’s Highways Department were extremely helpful in getting this scheme established and head teacher Rebecca Emeny and her staff have done a great job of advertising it within the school. The walk from Derby Road to the school takes just five minutes and gives children that little bit of extra exercise. It also reduces the vehicle pressure on Churchfields at the busiest times of the day. Air pollution and traffic chaos are reduced.

Additional measures outside the school have included extensions to the no-parking zigzag lines and signage requesting no idling and no U-turns. I know these bad practices still take place, but not to the extent they did previously. And I look forward to CCTV outside the school to act as a deterrent.

The Churchfields campaign has been a marvellous example of what can be achieved with parents, teaching staff and council officers working together. And I’m proud to have played my part, too. There’s still more to do, though. I would love to see a greater take-up of the park-and-stride scheme and look forward to a time when there is a traffic-free ‘school street’ outside all our primary schools.

To contact Councillor Rosa Gomez, call 07799 057 030

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