Proposed school safety zones around the new Midhurst Rother College have been criticised as “overkill” by town councillors.
The proposals include a yellow backed school sign incorporating flashing lights, red surfacing patches either side of the academy entrance in North Street, and double and single yellow lines at North Mill and in Lamberts Lane.
“This is the gateway to Midhurst and the proposals make it look a mess,” said vice chairman of the council John Quilter.
“The safety of the school children is paramount and whatever has to be done to preserve that, has to be done, but whatever can be done to reduce the impact is what we are asking for.”
He said the flashing sign was a safety feature outside many large schools in the country and, although he did not like them, “they are probably essential.”
Town councillors said a school had existed on or near the current site for many years and despite pupils having to cross the A286 to board school buses and Lamberts Lane to access other areas, this amount of warning sings and road markings had never been considered necessary in the past.
Councillors felt the new building would be on one campus and would include within its boundary parking for school buses, so risks to pupils were considerably reduced.
The minutes of their debate at the finance and general purposes committee continued: “The proposal for yellow lines at North Mill and Lamberts Lane were considered completely unnecessary. The Lamberts Lane restrictions in particular were felt to be inappropriate at a time when the town was in need of as much parking space as possible.”
Councillors also expressed disappointment that the proposal would bring more street furniture while the town council, the Vision Group and the new South Downs National Park Authority were all trying to get it reduced. They said the introduction of a safety zone gave the opportunity for the whole town to be considered but these proposals concentrated only on one area.
New town councillor Mark Purves told a full council meeting on Monday he felt it was important to make sure motorists could get through the town. He believed with all children using the one entrance onto the busy A286, it could create traffic problems.
“As it is at the moment there are about 950 students, and they are looking to have 1500.”
He said he felt it was important to support safety measures.
Carol Lintott pointed out town councillors were not opposed to all the proposals: “We accept there must be some safety zones in the area.”
Town councillors are supporting the ‘slow’ markings with red surfacing patches at the school entrance. But they are objecting to all the proposals for new single and double yellow lines.
The proposal for the flashing sign split the committee with four members supporting, three opposing and one abstention.
Members asked the county council to remove the disabled bay in Lamberts Lane, originally installed for the doctors’ surgery, which should have been removed when the surgery was relocated.