The access to St Philip's School from the Victoria Pleasure Ground

School challenged by town councillors over Victoria Pleasure Ground parking

Monitoring is needed to control parking by St Philips’ Primary School parents using the Victoria Pleasure Ground car park to drop-off and collect pupils, Uckfield town councillors have said.

They are concerned that parents’ are impeding access to a business on the site and for the council’s ground staff by inconsiderate parking which causes congestion and blocks other vehicles..

The issue was discussed when an application by the school to have a temporary entrance to its site from the car park made permanent was considered.

Details of the report to committee members was given in this earlier story

Permanent

Members of Uckfield Town Council environment and leisure committee on Monday (November 13) declined to give the proposal the green light and put the matter back in the “school’s court”.

The councillors said they were also still waiting for the school to say whether it would pay the legal costs to make the agreement permanent.

Committee members noted that allowing the access from private property on to council land also went against a long-standing policy prohibiting such gates or openings.

College Place

They also said Old Timbers Lane, which links the pleasure ground car park with the main road, was not designed to cope with a large amount of traffic.

It was also noted that the newly-built College Place, accessed off Old Timbers Lane did not have suitable space for vehicles to park or turn.

A decision will now be made by the committee on January 2 when they hope to learn the school’s response to the question of legal costs, how the parking can be monitored and to discuss how a “positive outcome” could be reached.

Cllr Diane Ward, Trust Independent, Uckfield Central, said she and Cllr Mick Dean, the committee chairman, had visited College Place and it was not suitable for and cars to go into and turn around.

Dangerous

“It will be majorly dangerous.

“Parking at Victoria Park and using that gate does seem to be a more suitable suggestion.

“We are, I will admit, between a rock and hard place. Whatever we decide, someone is not going to be happy,” she said.

If the new pathway was closed, she said, people would still park at the pleasure ground and then they will be walking down Old Timbers Lane into College Place which was potentially dangerous.

“In that respect, I think it would be a good idea to keep that pathway open,” she said.

Town council land

However, she had been at the site at a school time and saw that parking was “not very good”.

She continued: “People have to think that it is not parking just for the school. In fact, it is town council land. We have a business running, Sussex Support.

“They have not been able to park. They have not been able to get out. People are just parking willy-nilly.

Monitored

“They are parking in the yellow cross-hatched area,” she said, which prevented ground staff from getting to their equipment and buildings.

“This needs to be monitored. If it was agreed that it was kept open (the path and gate direct from the car park), then I think we should ask the school that they have to have some form of monitoring.

“Parents, or whoever is taking the child to school, are just parking there, letting the kids go and they are running across.

“That is just not safe. There needs to be some form of control from the school.”

Drop-off point

Cllr Helen Firth, Conservative, Uckfield Central, said that when the new housing development was put forward it was insisted that the school had a drop-off point.

“It was not in Victoria. They do have that drop-off area in place at the school.

“I am sorry I do not see any reason why they need to bring the children up into Victoria and park there when they have a drop-off point.”

Marshals

Cllr Donna French, Trust Independent, Uckfield North, said it was difficult for councillors to make a decision without a reply from the school about legal costs.

She said: “If we did decide to keep the gate, which I agree is the safest option for the children, the onus should be on the school to monitor the behaviour of the parents. They should be providing perhaps marshals to look after the children in the lane and the car park and they need to do a lot more education to these drivers regarding the disabled spaces and the yellow hatching.”

It needed to be made clear that what was happening was not fair on the grounds staff, the staff at Sussex Support Service who cannot leave the car park until after 9am and the extra wear and tear on the car park.

‘School needs to get involved’

“Perhaps that is something we need to talk to the school about,” she said.

The chairman, Cllr Dean, Trust Independent, New Town, summed up saying it was a difficult question but there had been nothing from the school.

“The school needs to get involved. They need to address the marshals, the monitoring. I don’t think we are in a position until the school comes back to us.

“On January 2, by hook or by crook, we need to make a decision. If the school has not come back to us, we will close the gate. That’s final.

“The school now have a date in mind. It is now in the school’s interest to come back with some ideas about what they intend to do about legal costs etc . . . and being fair to other users in that car park, and how, together, we are going to achieve that but the ball is firmly in their court.”

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