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Streets closed around Moray school in attempt to improve safety following removal of crossing patrollers

New Elgin Primary School
New Elgin Primary School

Streets surrounding a Moray primary school were shut yesterday in an attempt to improve safety for pupils.

Concerns about illegal parking have dogged New Elgin Primary School, which has 500 pupils, for decades.

However, concerns have been raised that the dangers will become even more extreme following the council’s decision to withdraw school crossing patrollers.

Yesterday, the authority and charity Living Streets trialled closing the roads immediately surrounding the school in an effort to encourage parents to leave the car at home or park further away from the gates.

The closures, from 8.30am-9am, and 2.30pm-3pm, could be rolled out permanently following further discussions.

Campaigners hope the initiative could also allow pupils to make more use of the streets around their school before and after class.

Chris Thompson, Living Streets’ schools coordinator, said: “We’ve tried lots of things here – asking parents to park further away, reinforcing the yellow lines, but some people have still found following them a challenge.

“Closures have worked elsewhere and have helped encourage parents to park slightly further away or choose to walk in instead.

“About 500 children come here every day – that’s a lot of vulnerable road users who we really need to make a priority.”

Police have attended the school in recent months to monitor the behaviour of drivers and have also given road safety tips to the youngsters themselves.

Children celebrated yesterday’s event by playing games and dancing to music on the road with Living Street’s mascot.

Janet MacDonald, Moray Council’s sustainable and active transport officer, said: “We know what the problems are, it’s the picking up and dropping off at peak times, but the issue is how we change behaviours there.

“Congestion and illegal parking is an issue and we want to find a solution to improve the health and well-being of pupils by encouraging them to walk or cycle to school while also improving safety.”

Elgin City South councillor John Divers said: “This has been an issue since I joined the council 20 years ago. Due to the layout of the junction you probably would have needed two or three crossing patrollers, now we have none.

“There’s been a lot of near misses over the years. I think we can consider it a successful trial from what I’ve seen so far.”

Reports about yesterday’s trial will be submitted to council management to decide whether the closures will become permanent.

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