My name is Jolyon Roberts and along with my colleague, Lynne Sampson, I am one of the two Executive Headteachers of the Pegasus Academy Trust which runs six local schools, including Cypress Primary in Upper Norwood. I have been asked to contribute to this blog in order to describe both the benefits and the repercussions of recent traffic changes on our school, the families who attend and the staff that work there.
I have thought careful about what to write here, or indeed whether I should write anything at all, given that opinions are so sharply divided. However, as the scheme has now been in place for some weeks we can now see more clearly how it is working and I will concentrate on that rather than whether the scheme was right or wrong in the first place. There is still scope for change, which I understand is the purpose of this website and I would hope that many residents and people who work in the area would engage constructively in order to make this work well for all of us. As I see it the two main consequences of the measures taken so far are:
- A substantial reduction in traffic on Auckland Road which is one of the main conduits for families travelling to Cypress Primary. For those travelling on the 410 bus the new bus gate means that their journey is now unaffected or even improved as the congestion on Auckland Road, always an issue previously, is reduced. For cyclists and pedestrians the road is also now unquestionably safer with periods between the remaining cars and buses being traffic free for up to 90 seconds at a time which would be unheard of prior to the changes. It may be just my experience but the drivers of the cars still using the road seem less stressed and more considerate of other road users too. For some, of course, their stress levels will rise considerably three to four days later when they get their penalty ticket for driving through the bus gate but even those instances may well be lessening now as Sat Nav databases are updated and drivers understand the new arrangements and adjust their journeys accordingly. There can be little doubt that the bus gate on Auckland Road improves the journey to school for pedestrians, cyclists and those using the buses but of course there is ‘no such thing as a free lunch’ and benefits on Auckland Road have knock on consequences elsewhere;
- A huge rise in traffic on Church Road by the White Hart affecting families driving to school as well as many of our staff trying to get into South Norwood and Thornton Heath from the Bromley side. I know that journey times for teachers and support staff have become much longer as a result of the traffic jams here and this may affect their punctuality at work and their state of mind when they get into school. We all like to be prepared and to rush straight from being stuck in a traffic jam to working with a class of children is not ideal. The great unknown here is what the traffic would be like without the temporary traffic lights that are in place as a result of the unsafe building on Church Road. Wouldn’t it be good if the situation with that building were speedily resolved and we could better judge the traffic measures as originally intended? In the meantime any attempt to circumvent this bottleneck via Hamlet Road and then up the hill via Fox Hill, Stambourne Way or Sylvan Hill is thwarted because of the LTN closures of these three roads. Drivers from the Bromley side are this faced with a ‘perfect storm’: no access via Auckland Road, a blockage on Church Road and no way though on the connecting roads. I fully understand their frustrations.
In addition to the LTN measures Cypress Road has recently been designated a ‘Safer School’ street meaning that cars that enter the Cypress Road between 8:00-9:30AM and 2:00-4:00PM are issued with a fine. This has eliminated at a stroke poor behaviour from motorists on this street at dropping off time in the morning and collection time in the evening. Every school should benefit from this kind of arrangement.
I hope I have added further context to the debate on this website without coming down too firmly on one side or the other. It seems clear from other comments here that the scheme needs refinement and I hope this has described the current impact for families at Cypress Primary as well as the staff that work there. I shall follow the site with interest as the debate continues. Jolyon Roberts
One thought on “View from Cypress School”
This even-handed blog raises several questions:
1) Shouldn’t we treat staff at the schools in our community as equal to residents. Presuming that at some time that our LTN will be improved and that ANPRs form the basis for allowing more free access to residents, shouldn’t staff also be added to the necessary database to give them access to schools.
2) what can be done to encourage more pupils to walk/cycle to school (Walk to School Week is 6-10 October)
3) how to show the benefits of school streets so that other schools and their pupils can benefit too