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Otford Village Car park

Discussion in 'Otford Safety First / Car Parking Issues' started by Otford Parish Council, Nov 14, 2012. Replies: 7 | Views: 2764

  1. There will be OPC Cllr Surgeries at School House on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th November between 10am and 11am if you would like to discuss the car park proposal.
  2. JohnH New Member

    Very useful discussion at the well attended session today with John E-W and Charmian. The whole village now needs to support the
    'No Expansion Without Car Parking Provision'

    cause within Otford Primary School to bring about the new 'green' car park, until now ignored by KCC in their 'planning'. The expansion has already been forced on the village, with much more to come. Adequate parking provision should be in place at the same time i.e. before next September.

    Will the funding come from the £1.2 million 'given' by Sevenoaks DC to Dunton Green from the Ryewood development? (read the link) or the (on top of the £1.2m) £236,096 to fund additional pupil places at primary schools within a 2 mile radius of the site (read the link) ?

    Why not if Otford village district school is taking on school children from that part of the community?

    Attached Files:

  3. Otford New Member

    From Cllr Michelle Lowe blog 23 Nov 2012

    Statement from the Parish Council about the future of Otford car park

    Chairman of Otford Parish Council, John Edwards Winser, says:
    The car park continues to be a contentious issue, but as I keep on saying, we will not be able to fully satisfy all of the stakeholder’s requirements whatever system we employ. At the moment we have settled on a pay and display system that will be run for the parish by a qualified operator. There will not be vast profits made, but we must cover the operating costs and any excess will be available for the parish.
    On no account must the Parish office staff be exposed to any complaints or disputes and abusive members of the public will not be tolerated. These conditions can only be guaranteed by a licensed independent operator.
    What we have not settled on is the parking costs. Following two open surgeries (thanks to those who attended) it has been suggested that a working group representing stakeholder interests be organised to try to resolve the issues of concern with the Council. However, at the end of the day to do nothing is an option we hope to avoid, especially as the school will be expanding next September and as a result more parents will be “dropping off” their children and long-term staff parking will increase.
    It is expected that the Pay & Display will be held in abeyance until the working group has reported back to the Parish Council. If, however, the demands of the various interested parties prove irreconcilable with the Pay and Display scheme then we will have no option but to cease our attempts to improve parking in the village car park and inevitably, the present chaotic situation will not only persist but deteriorate further.
    I would like to assure everyone that all councillors work tirelessly in the interests of the village working many hours on your behalf and receiving no pay. The problem of the car park is an extremely complex one to deal with and we are doing our best in difficult circumstances. We will inform you of developments through the Parish newsletter but not the minutiae of discussions. It could be that another open meeting is convened, but the representations from a working group are likely to provide a more effective and efficient way forward in terms of a village wide consensus of opinion.”
  4. Pondmatters New Member

    You do realise that the proposed expansion predicts the following increases in year R:

    2012-2013 from 50 pupils to 59
    2013-2014 from 50 pupils to 55
    2014-2015 from 50 to 61
    2015 to 2016 from 50 to 57

    Not exactly a major influx from the Dunton Green is it? Not much basis to demand funds from Ryewood. 5-9 pupils a year? Also who is to say that the increase of pupils will even come from there? There is a very small minority of children who attend from Kemsing, Seal and Sevenoaks already. Who is to say the increase will not come from siblings of those already attending? . The assumption that the approval of the expansion will significantly impact the current situation is misinformed. The school has already expanded and approval of official expansion will simply mean that the students who are already there will not have to attend school in overcrowded condition with insufficient facilities. The fear of people coming from "outside the village" smacks of snobbery. Surely families who are invested in their children's education to the point where they will seek out the best placement for their child are exactly the kind of dedicated and engaged members of the community we wish to attract. As much as I am sure the Parish council and some of the elderly members of the village would love to veto the ability to attend the Otford Primary school from other villages, the truth of the matter is that it is not up to them. The Kent Education authority holds this power and clearly over the past few years they have decided that the demand is great enough that the school has already expanded to a double for the past few years.

    Of course the flash point for all of this seems to be the issue of the car park. Where do I begin? The parents and staff of the Otford school have borne the brunt of the blame for this. It seems that the parish council have gone to great lengths to ensure that all roads of blame lead back to the school. When the use of the car park was evaluated, the evaluation took place during school drop off. Very scientific. How about an evaluation that begins at 7 am counting the number of cars parked in it from the many houses on the high street who do not have their own parking as well as the commuters that have been forced off the local neighborhood roads in to the municipal car park in order to find free car parking. The number of cars should have then been counted again at 9:15 to see how much the amount of cars increased from the original count once drop off was finished. Surely all of this complaining and moaning could not be down to the 1/2 hour in the morning and the afternoon that car park fills up? Surely the greater issue is people who use the car park as a driveway or for long term parking? A huge majority of the parents park, drop off , then leave. It baffles me that the entire issue of overcrowding of the car park boils down to those two periods of the day when there is high usage by parents. Do they have less right to use the car park than the people who use the memorial hall for clubs and activities? Are they less important members of the community? Last time I checked, the village was for the use of everyone. Not just a vocal minority who seem to think that the village should be designed around their specific needs. The school is part of the community. The parents and children use the shops, the pubs, attend church, take part in village events and are an important part of the village. As are all the other members of the parish. Obviously balance needs to be found to evaluate all the needs of the members of the village. It seems as to me as if the balance has yet to be found.


  5. jonny p New Member

    I attended the School Open consultation meeting on Thursday 6, having also been at the Parish Highway meeting on Monday 3 Dec.

    A Parking Steering Group of stakeholders has formed, and is to be recommended by the Highways Committee to the OPC at the full meeting on Monday 10th.

    The OPC has pointed the parking problem finger at the School, which is partly true. At the consultation a little concern was aired about immigration from surrounding villages but, as ‘Pondmatters’ stated above, the Education Authority holds the reins regarding School expansion to 420 pupils. Otford’s is not the only school that is expanding. The Government’s figures suggest the population is to increase by 10 million in the next 25 years. In and around Sevenoaks we have already seen increasing numbers of children and, as Nick Chard rightly said, they need to be catered for. They ARE our future.

    Whatever the Education Authority decides, the infrastructure of Otford will decide the issue. Can the roads cope, are the pavements wide and safe enough for the numbers using them? Speed is an issue, 95% of speeding tickets go to residents. On that point it is we who are the problem. A traffic feasibility study must be carried out before expansion planning is allowed, and its recommendations HAVE to be adhered to.

    We have a linear village with all roads leading to one point, the car park. At 8am there is no problem, the CP is seldom more than half full. School drop off is chaotic, but the CP remains at busting point through the day due to Hall users, commuters, shoppers, Rec users etc. Increasing the ‘churn’, as advocated by OPC, solves nothing, by definition the traffic increases. 24/7 P&D is a blatant money making exercise and will only irritate the residents and make short term visits, such as the drop off, worse than ever (I’m ignoring the weekend and bank holiday aspect of the OPC’s recommended “24/7” for now).

    John E-W’s interjection, that the School ought to be shut down and sold (another one built somewhere else), was interesting. This was politely rebuffed by the education officer Simon Webb, but raised the point that Green Belt regulation could be overcome if the need required. The obvious move is to provide more parking, we certainly have the “need”. In a positive move on 3 Dec the Highways Committee agreed that all options are on the agenda.

    Questioning of the Education guys told us that they won’t help financially with parking, but they did make positive comments about a 20mph zone.

    Nevertheless, this is a great opportunity to move on from the past and get we residents what we need. The KCC, the School, the Governors, most of the residents and all parents all know what’s required, it’s just the getting it done. Let’s move on from “can’t, won’t, shan’t” and show we have the will.

    You can contact Simon Webb on school.consultations@kent.gov.uk

    Parents (yes, I am one): reply to the KCC about the expansion. Use your vote.
  6. JohnH New Member

    I too was at the KCC meeting at the school last Thursday. Unfortunately, personal issues prevented me from speaking at the time. This is what I wanted to say and my personal view:
    John Hubbard, parent of 4 children who attended Otford Primary, my wife who has taught mixed year groups there with class numbers of up to 35, 20+ years working in a local authority with both Education and Highways services and committees, villager, (realist).

    To Councillor Gary Cook, Chair of KCC Education Cabinet Committee and Simon Webb, Area Education Officer.
    The word you both repeated often when speaking was ‘planning’. Whilst Councillor Chard can thank you for attending this meeting, unfortunately I cannot thank you for the lack of ‘planning’ that has been shown in how the school has already expanded in recent years and its future plans. This failure to build in planning for the consequences of expanding the school is now showing itself in being the major factor in transport, parking and safety issues facing Otford today. The major factor, not all of the factors.

    Your own document ‘Commissioning Plan for Education Provision 2012-17’ states: 'These are our over arching principles' in Section 6.2 (p.19)
    and in Section 7.13 (p.22)

    How can you then say that a Transport Feasibility Study is quote: ‘not part of this consultation’? It must be! Not only it must be, it should have been thoroughly investigated over 2 years ago as the school started to expand and the knowledge of the demand for Primary places now, was then known. It will now likely be rushed and will not obviously be an integral part of the Commissioning Plan that you are asking for comments on. For many years in local government, staff and politicians in ‘Education’ don’t liaise as they should with their colleagues in ‘Highways’ – this is an example where it badly needs to be addressed within KCC.

    Your document, section ‘District Analysis –Primary’ (p.67) states that you await confirmation of expected school placement from the significant housing developments, the first in Dunton Green now underway. I am surprised you cannot estimate the need from a development of that size from similar development size statistics. Most people of Otford believe a substantial number of parents will apply to Otford Primary and that increased traffic along Rye Lane will become a reality, not as KCC Highways responded to the Planning Application when our Parish Council objected, as ‘having no effect’. Maybe ‘Highways’ were not aware from yourselves where the primary places were likely to be used? See attachment re: Ryewood Planning Application

    I am concerned that not only will the school expand as you plan it to have 420 pupils (from 315 Autumn 2011, 343 today), but that there will be pressure to accommodate even more pupils, as other local school expansions may not be ready in time. The now ‘condemned’ classrooms may still find themselves being improved, ‘un-condemned’ and being used with perhaps 450-470 pupils possibly having to be fitted in at the school?

    If, as an Education Committee and Department, you wish to see Otford Primary fulfil this need under your Commissioning Plan, then please ensure that you commit the Education / Highways budget to have built in to it the plan to expand the school footprint even more! Your plan should already have highlighted the need for its own dedicated (‘green’) parking provision for staff, pupils / parents alike to ensure the safety of our children (grandchildren).

    Finally, the Education budget allocation for Otford in recent years has seen no monies being provided to maintain the swimming pool facility within the school, liked and used by both children and their families in the village. Why have you let this happen to now be in a position where it also is ‘condemned’ and you are demolishing the pool site and now ‘planning’ to bus children for swimming to other schools (at what cost)? Have the safety consequences of travel with such limited access to the school for collection / drop-off been thought through? Are you planning to use the village car park for this too?

    To Natasha Caisley, Head Teacher and Chris Woollard, Chair of Governors.
    You spoke wonderfully and passionately about the education provision at the school and the benefits that a confirmed two form intake would bring. It may surprise you that I totally support this, having made the comments above. Attempting to fund for, and teach mixed year groups is far from ideal and a two form intake would be a great benefit. I do though so wish that you both had taken the opportunity and championed that expanding the school for education reasons and maximising budgetary provision is vitally important, but it surely still comes second to the safety of our children, not just in school, but travelling to and from it. They are obviously linked and you cannot change one without affecting the other. In addition, the school strives to be an integral part of the community and that by expanding the school, without planning for and putting in place adequate parking provision at the same time, prejudices that close relationship. A Head Teacher may possibly feel constrained as an employee of KCC speaking in this way. Please don’t be. A governing body certainly should not.

    To Otford Parish Council and its Highways Committee.
    Your hands are tied. There is no suitable answer to the parking problems in the car park that is under your control, until such time that KCC alleviate the situation. Certainly a Pay and Display proposal will be hugely detrimental and has no backing, in my opinion, from the vast majority of the village community. As you know, I still maintain that an alternative self-ticketing solution is far preferable and workable and should be something to be looked at more closely again, but not now!
    What is needed now is a clear message to the community that Pay and Display will not happen imminently, by revoking the vote for it.

    Focus your efforts now in ensuring a community wide response to this consultation in the time frame allowed. Despite what has been said above, a formal consultation plan is being followed. Ensure the next January newsletter requests a total village response to it. Have an Open Day in the village hall one Saturday / Sunday during early January about the Consultation Plan issue to promote the need for responses by 28 January. Hopefully those individuals who involve themselves in the Parish Plan, Village Design Statement and the Otford Society who have spoken of the need for a ‘green’ car park for a number of years can assist, alongside members of any new stakeholder group being formed. This is probably the only window of time the village has to try to get KCC to see sense.

    To the lady who spoke out and other school parents who may feel that the community are not supporting the school in trying to provide the best education environment.
    What is happening is the frustration from people that is being expressed. Personally, I believe this is not directed at all to the staff and parents at the school, but really at KCC or ‘the system’ above them that inadequately provides funding. If you canvassed Otford, most people that have had children would have sent them to the village school and share the view that the school needs every support from us all to maintain its excellent reputation and continue to improve. Part of that support is agreeing with the ‘education’ benefits expressed of the school plans, at the same time ensuring the safety of pupils and the continued ‘viability’ of all aspects of village life including: the shops and businesses, users of the village hall and recreation ground, together with local residents.

    To our County Councillor, Nick Chard.
    You have ‘come late to the party’ but please use whatever influence you have, representing Otford, to ensure that the consequences of the school expansion that has already happened and will further happen are properly funded and committed to within KCC.

    The KCC Education budget should have the commitment earmarked within it during 2012-13 to fund the total school expansion necessary to cater for increased pupil numbers. This is not just the buildings, but a new access, drop off and collection car parking provision to ensure the safety of pupils and to meet the needs of the community, both for school curriculum journeys and transport to / from school.

    You are the sole representative of Otford on the Sevenoaks DC sub-group that is allocating the spend of the S106 provision for the Ryewood development. Our District Councillors, John Edwards-Winser and Michelle Lowe have no representation (that should be changed!). Quite clearly there is going to be an effect on the Otford community and it is wrong that the total spend of the £1.2M plus other specific allocations should only be spent within Dunton Green and Riverhead parishes, if there are consequences also in Otford. It may be impossible to vary the amount of the S106 contribution from Berkeley Homes; however it certainly is quite feasible to request a variation in how it is allocated. Hopefully, this is not too late?

    KCC References
    Otford Primary School Consultation details and response form
    Consultation runs from 3 December 2012 and closes on 28 January 2013
    How To Give Your Views
    Complete and return the response form:
    Simon Webb, Area Education Officer, Green Zone, Commercial Buildings, Gibson Drive, Kings Hill,
    Kent ME19 4QG Fax: (01732) 525223
    Email your comments to: school.consultations@kent.gov.uk

    Whilst I am in favour of the school expansion to two form intake, I cannot answer that way on the consultation question as the plan is incomplete without parking provision. The consultation question is a simple Yes or No to the ‘plan’ as it stands. As it stands, the answer from the whole village must be a resounding No to ensure the ‘plan’ is revised quickly to include a commitment to this before it proceeds.

    If you ... villagers, householders, shops, pubs, cafes, teachers, other school staff, governors, parents, councillors too! i.e. everyone! simply do not bother to respond to this consultation with your views, you only have yourselves to blame, not the Parish Council, as car parking in the village becomes even more chaotic and dangerous.

    Attached Files:

  7. Deborah Harrison New Member

    With regards to the primary school, I think a lot of people don't realise how much the school has expanded already. It is already 2 classes per year group up to year 5, and as of next year all years will have two classes in any event. So in terms of numbers it isn't a massive increase. Many classes are already in mobile classrooms and the physical expansion of the school is required to accommodate existing pupils as much as the new ones. Plus the fact all primary schools in Sevenoaks and pretty much across the country are expanding as the birth rate has gone up meaning a lot more places are required. The alternative is children not having school places.
  8. Sarah Y New Member

    Like many parents and members of the Otford Community I support any opportunity to improve the quality of teaching and educational facilities for our children. Their education is one of our primary concerns. That said, this must come with the consideration for their safety. The simple fact is that the situation of the school, the village High Street, linear arrangement of the village and the parking facility mean that the school commute is not particularly a safe one and with increasing traffic that situation will only get worse. We should also not forget that the school is a part of the community and as such needs to be in tune with it, rather than at odds with the wider community needs. I would urge the community to work together to obtain a solution that may improve the situation for many (if not all) parties.

    I believe that the school expansion is an opportunity for the village community to get action from Kent Education/ Kent Highways in terms of providing a solution to traffic congestion and parking in the village.

    I can only urge everyone to use the consultation process to make their views known. As far as I can see, this may be our only opportunity to improve the parking and road safety situation in the village, as well as take positive steps towards providing our children with improved education and facilities.

    The consultation ends on Monday 28th January

    You can email your response to school.consultation@kent.gov.uk

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