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New Forest schools shortlisted for car-free trials at pick-up and drop-off times

The entrance to Foxhills Junior and Infant schools, Ashurst
The entrance to Foxhills Junior and Infant schools, Ashurst

THREE NEW Forest schools have been shortlisted to take part in a trial scheme to create car-free areas at pick-up and drop-off times.

The School Streets initiative by Hampshire County Council is encouraging more youngsters to walk and cycle by creating a safer environment on the roads.

Foxhills Infant and Junior schools in Ashurst, and Cadland Primary in Holbury have made it onto a shortlist of six.

HCC will choose three for the trial, with measures brought in such as vehicle bans, barriers and volunteer marshals. It is expected to take place between September and October this year.

The other three will be left as they are with measurements of traffic activity as an experimental control group. The project will take into consideration social distancing and travel patterns due to Covid-19.

The results would then be reviewed for the county council to decide if the scheme is worth rolling out to more schools.

However, although up to £66,000 of funding has been allocated by the government’s Active Travel Fund, there is no long-term funding.

A report by HCC stated that any future rollout would require “significant staff resource” from the council as well as input from the schools.

As reported in the A&T, the schools at Foxhills have been lobbying HCC for years for traffic improvements after a number of accidents with cars, such as opening doors into cyclists and reversing into children.

In 2018 a section of pavement was extended to create a better crossing point after the road was deemed too risky for a manned crossing patrol.

Cllr Rob Humby, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy, transport and environment, said: “We have a unique opportunity here to make the most of one of the positive changes that has come about during this past year, which is to encourage people to continue walking and cycling for their everyday journeys.

“Schools and colleges across the county have made great progress working with the county council’s travel team over the years, devising ways and routes to leave the car at home for the school run which improve the physical and mental wellbeing of young people at the same time as improving air quality and reducing congestion in our communities.

“I am therefore very pleased to support this trial, creating traffic free areas at the beginning and end of the school day with the aim of encouraging more children to come to school by foot, bike or scooter.”

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