09:00AM, Friday 22 May 2020
Holyport College has launched a campaign for a safe walking route to the school from Holyport village.
Situated on the Ascot Road, which has a 40 mile per hour speed limit, there is no safe way for students from the village to access the school on foot.
Pupils are either dropped off by car or get picked up and taken home by one of three coaches that run daily, at an annual cost to the school of £50,000, and to parents up to £600.
However, some of the students who do live in the village do walk to school despite the danger of speeding cars.
“That’s something we actively discourage but we can’t prevent it,” said Headmaster, Mr Ben McCarey .
“Sadly you do still have young people, particularly those who live on Sturt Green or in a very close proximity to the college who are jumping across the Ascot Road twice a day.”
When the school was built in 2014 Mr McCarey said pedestrian access was a consideration but that ‘there was no solution at the time’ and that the school has ring-fenced money ‘to contribute towards a solution’.
In a video launching the campaign Holyport College headmaster, Mr McCarey, talks about some of the ‘controversies’ which have led to objections for a safe walking route to the school in the past.
These include ‘controversies historically around the financing of this school’ and because ‘the local children who live in Holyport half a mile down that road have not been able to gain day places at Holyport College’.
Previously only 26 day-students were admitted to year seven each year, but only a few of these places would go to children living locally.
From this September this number has doubled and the catchment radius has increased from below half a mile to 1.5 miles, this means the additional 26 places will all go to children living in Holyport.
It is estimated that by 2024 more than 200 children will be attending Holyport College from within a two mile radius.
The school held an informal consultation on the admissions change last autumn and will formally consult on it this autumn.
“The reason we’re doing it [launching the campaign] now is because for the first time kids who live in Holyport village have genuine access to Holyport College starting this September,” he said.
"What we’re trying to do is demonstrate that as it currently stands there is public support for a project like this that will allow the significantly increased number of local kids to walk to school.”
To do this the school is urging people to sign a petition, which has almost 1,000 signatures so far.
The solution the school is proposing is installing two crossings and extending the 30mph speed limit on the village green, then reducing the limit to 20mph to beyond the school gates.
One of the crossings would be outside the school gates, and the other along from the junction of Sturt Green, heading towards the school, where the pavement discontinues on one side of the road and picks-up again on the opposite side.
However, these are just suggestions, Mr McCarey said he does not know if they are safe, practical or affordable but that the school is ‘open to anything’.
There is also access to the school site via Forest Green Road which could be explored.
Mr McCarey also believes a safe walking route would also benefit the rest of the community by reducing traffic on the roads, and so does Theresa May MP who has written a letter to the Royal Borough supporting the proposal.
She said: “I want to see more children from the village able to go to Holyport College and be able to travel there safely.
“I feel this is an eminently sensible proposal, especially at a time when we are encouraging people to partake in more environmentally friendly forms of travel and to reduce our individual carbon footprints”.
To find out more about the campaign, watch the video and support the campaign for a safe walking route by signing the petition go to www.holyportcollege.org.uk/safe-walking-route
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