Car ban at two Falkirk schools only way to keep pupils safe, residents’ group warns

A ban on cars dropping off and picking up pupils outside two neighbouring Falkirk schools is the only way to stop an accident happening, a residents’ group has claimed.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 16th September 2021, 4:43 pm

Members of Symington Drive Residents’ Association are putting the proposal forward after counting up to 671 cars on the road at afternoon pick-up time for St Francis Xavier’s Primary and St Mungo’s High School, in Bainsford.

The residents gathered the numbers by counting traffic at the top of Merchiston Avenue – at the roundabout beside St Francis Primary – from 8-9.15am and again between 2.30-3.15 pm, for a week, from Monday, August 23 to Friday, August 27 this year.

They found at the morning drop off there were between 247 and 539 cars, up to nine vans, between 12 and 16 buses and around six bikes.

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Cars parked in a line outside the schools

For the afternoon pick up, they counted between 485 and 671 cars, up to seven vans, between 15 and 27 buses and around five bikes.

People living beside the school say the traffic is so heavy that it is very difficult for pedestrians to get in and out of the street safely.

They are also concerned that at peak times, emergency vehicles would find it impossible to get through.

Rresidents on the other side of the two schools are also affected, they say, with cars parked along Merchiston Road and Merchiston Avenue – on the road, pavements and double yellow lines around the school.

Headteachers Mark Murray and Stephen Phee have sent several reminders to parents but to little effect, the group says.

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Sharron Linton, chairperson, was filming the traffic to show how busy the road was when she witnessed children on bikes narrowly missing two passing buses.

She said: “We have done door to door visits with all 67 residents of Symington Drive to get their views - and the stories we heard were shocking.

“One resident has a disabled son. There have been occasions when she’s had to carry him out of the street and round to Merchiston Road to be collected as the mini bus could not enter or exit the street.

“This problem is becoming increasingly worrying. We need something done before someone is hurt or killed.

“Another resident whose child gets transport and is severely autistic has been made to wait in traffic for over half an hour which has caused major distress.”

The group is also concerned about the effects of air pollution.

In a letter to the council – accompanied by a petition signed by over 100 local residents – the group proposes a no car zone.

Exceptions would be made for emergency vehicles, postal workers and school buses and taxis, while schools would get permits to allocate to staff and visitors.

Local councillor Cecil Meiklejohn said: “I am delighted that communities are seeking to identify possible solutions and I am happy to work with the Symington tenants and residents on this.

“The proposals have been passed to roads officers to look at in more detail and provide feedback on the practicalities of how such a scheme might work including the enforcement aspects as well as any legal and consultation process with the wider community.

“Once feedback is received this will be shared with tenants and residents, and consideration given to the next steps.”

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