Resident permit bays near Sleaford school to be shared with parents to help cut morning rush hour
At a meeting of Lincolnshire County Council’s Planning and Regulation Committee on Monday (January 8), councillors discussed proposals to amend waiting restrictions and introduce new parking spaces for parents on the school run at William Alvey C of E Primary School in Sleaford.
It would involve removing parking on Eastgate, one of Sleaford’s busiest connecting routes in and out of the town, by proposing an extension of the single yellow line on the road and introducing a no waiting at any time order on the south side of the road.
The primary school generates around 40-50 vehicles parking on the street on a daily basis to both pick up and drop off children, which council officers say “creates problems in terms of obstruction for traffic flow.”
To mitigate this, councillors proposed using “underutilised” parking bays that require permits on nearby Ashfield Road, offering the spaces to non-permit holders to use for up to 40 minutes.
This would cater for around half of the vehicles displaced from Eastgate if the plans were approved, and the planning committee voted in favour of the proposals.
It came after recommendations were made to overrule the six objections to this application to allow the order to proceed as advertised.
Objections came largely from permit holders on Eastgate and Ashfield Road who are concerned that they will be unable to use those spaces if non-permit holders were given access to the bays.
Critics of the plans argued that there are other alternative parking arrangements in Sleaford, such as at Cogglesford Mill (where there are 12 spaces) and the rest of Eastgate car park (where there are 172 spaces).
However, council officers felt that highway space could be used “more efficiently” by making the permit bays dual purpose, after monitoring the use of existing spaces that required parking permits.
Committee chairman Coun Ian Fleetwood proposed the changes, seconded by Coun Paul Skinner, and said that he was “quite happy to move this recommendation” upon assessment of the area and its parking plight.
Despite the vote being carried by a margin of eight in favour to three against, there were plenty of concerns raised in the meeting around whether these plans go far enough to address traffic problems in the area, particularly during school run hours.
Coun Marianne Overton of the Lincolnshire Independents said it was a “difficult one” to process and that she recognises the concerns of both sides.
“I understand the pressures and recognise the problem,” she said. “What I’m really concerned about is whether we’ve provided a sufficient alternative. If parents have nowhere to park, that causes a problem too.
“I don’t think this is going to be enough to resolve the problem. I would like to see some more alternatives that could be provided, even if some of the verge where people park at the moment could become a lay-by.”
Coun Fleetwood responded by pointing out concerns over the verge becoming a lay-by would be a separate highways issue beyond the remit of the planning committee.
Conservative Coun for the Boston West division, Paula Ashleigh-Morris, echoed frustrations of those who lodged objections to the proposal, namely the existing parking permit holders on Ashfield Road.
She said: “I would have thought the people who paid for parking permits will all of a sudden find, particularly in a morning, that altering the bays isn’t going to make a hell of a lot of difference.
“I would have felt there’d be a real pinch point around 8am when everyone is still parked there.
“We budge school parking around so much, I think this perhaps needs another look because several of the solutions don’t seem like solutions to me.”
Coun Thomas Smith, also part of the Conservative group, concurred with Councillors Ashleigh-Morris and Overton on the amendment plan, saying he has “a lot of sympathy with the objections” and fears this will “kick the can down the road” before the issue arises again in the future.
“If I was paying for a permit and that was my property, I would be quite upset and aggrieved myself,” he said. “Schools simply do not have the land to accommodate the level of parking of parents that is now customary.”
However, surveys completed on December 20 as part of the report into these amendments found that just two of the 16 permit-only bays at Ashfield Road were being used while investigations were carried out, as well as just five of the 15 spaces on Duke Street.
This, along with previous surveys of the area, suggested to councillors that the spaces weren’t being properly utilised and would serve best as a space for cars to park during the school commute.
William Alvey C of E Primary School, the relevant district councillor for Sleaford Navigation ward and the county councillor for Sleaford division have been contacted for comment.