Bexhill pupils call for road to be shut outside school - here’s why

Staff, children and families at a Bexhill school have called for a road to be closed during school drop and collection times.

Bexhill MP, Huw Merriman with children and staff at All Saints School in Sidley, Bexhill holding their protest SUS-211210-125855001
Bexhill MP, Huw Merriman with children and staff at All Saints School in Sidley, Bexhill holding their protest SUS-211210-125855001

Pupils and staff from All Saints Primary School in Sidley held a peaceful protest on All Saints Lane last week to highlight the dangers of parents and others parking on the street rather than using the nearby free car park.

Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman, met with parents and Year 2 pupils at the protest.

East Sussex County Council had been able to use Government Active Travel funding to close the lane for six weeks up to May this year, at pick-up and drop-off times.

The scheme was recognised as a success by the school and by residents.

Mr Merriman said despite this, the county council stated it needed to evaluate the exercise.

Five months later, the decision has now been made to potentially continue but with the need for further evaluations, he added.

The MP said he then took the matter up with Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, while chairing the Transport Select Committee.

Mike Taylor, headteacher of All Saints Primary School, said he was concerned a serious accident would soon happen if things continued as they were.

He said: “We are frustrated that following a successful trial of closing the road, we are still in a position where red tape is getting in the way of a free, community-led solution to this problem.”

Mr Merriman said: “I was really pleased to meet the children of Year 2 who were passionate campaigners for better road safety outside their school and consequently had no problem in persuading me to support them on their protest march.

“As a long-term supporter of no car zones outside schools, I was pleased that the Government’s emergency Active Travel Fund was used by the county council to provide temporary road closures outside All Saints School in Sidley during Covid. This allowed parents and children to walk safely to and from the school where the road and pavements are narrow.

“The trial scheme worked even better than expected and received positive feedback from local residents and parents.

“I was therefore hopeful, as was the school, that it would be quickly be adopted by the council as a long-term measure to keep the children safe from inconsiderate and dangerous parking and driving.

“I share the school’s disappointment that the council considers a further period of evaluation and consultation is necessary as this will add several months to re-instating the safety measures for the longer term. I have asked the council to reconsider their procedures.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We secured funding from the Department for Transport’s Emergency Active Travel Fund to run a six-week trial ‘School Streets’ programme across the county from March this year. This involved restricting access outside six schools, with the county council funding an external organisation to both manage and monitor the trial.

“All the schools were notified from the outset that this was a trial and we are very grateful for the commitment from the schools and the wider school communities during the trial period.

“We have undertaken an evaluation and as a result of this we will be undertaking focus group work with three of the schools who participated in the trial, alongside their local communities, to test the public acceptability of the scheme moving from a trial to a potential permanent scheme.”