Poor parking blocks drive of disabled man

June 05 2016

AN EASTVILLE school has renewed its plea for traffic calming measures after it emerged parents have been blocking the entrance to the home of a severely disabled man.

AN EASTVILLE school has renewed its plea for traffic calming measures after it emerged parents have been blocking the entrance to the home of a severely disabled man.
Marlon Thomas was left needing round-the-clock care after he was beaten up by a gang of fairground workers at Durdhams Downs in 1984.
Since 1997 Marlon, who was 18 at the time of the attack, has been cared for at a house near May Park Primary School.
But parents dropping off and picking up their children have blocked the driveway to the house which means in a medical emergency, paramedics could be delayed in treating Marlon.
The school was made aware of the situation when they received a letter from the Justice for Marlon Thomas Campaign.
Staff at the school say they are upset to hear about the latest turn of events, especially as they have been urging Bristol City Council for the past year to take action before a child is seriously injured or killed.
As reported in last month’s Fishponds Voice, staff at the school have made repeated contact with the authority suggesting measures which they feel would help the problem including introducing a one-way system and a pelican crossing, extending zig-zag lines and raising the speed table outside the school, which they say is too low to be effective.
The letter from the campaign group to headteacher Paul Bull said parents are either blocking or parking on the drive of Marlon’s home on a daily basis.
It said: “Things have escalated from frequent polite reminders to frequent arguments as some of the parents responsible are either repeat offenders or very disrespectful when asked to move, and have proven that they do not care, even when it is explained to them the importance of keeping our driveway free.”
The letter went on to say there have been occasions when Marlon has had to go out for, or return from, therapy sessions and the drive has been blocked by parents.
It also said in a medical emergency paramedics could be obstructed or delayed in getting to Marlon which could have serious consequences.
After receiving the letter, Mr Bull  has visited Marlon’s family to explain he too is exasperated by the situation and outlined what the school has been trying to do to get the council to take action.
The main problem is the width of Coombe Road, which is too narrow for two vehicles to pass safely, resulting in severe congestion and frayed tempers. However the situation has been made worse because the school has expanded to help accommodate the shortage of primary school places in Bristol.
Deputy headteacher Stuart Albery said a copy of the letter has been included in the school’s latest newsletter so all parents would now be aware of Marlon’s situation.
He has organised a meeting at the school on June 15 and invited members of the campaign group, neighbours, parents and council representatives.
Mr Albery said: “We want to get as many people together to discuss the situation and the way forward. We are also open to suggestions about what can be done.
“The family of Marlon are at their wits’ ends. It’s really serious and is upsetting and embarrassing. Our parents are not only parking there, they’re being rude. We are 100 per cent behind Marlon’s family.”
The council pointed the school in the direction of Fishponds Neighbourhood Partnership however each neighbour partnership can only implement one traffic scheme per year and a scheme has already been allocated for this year.
Mr Albery said: “We are really frustrated as everywhere we go we seem to get to a dead end. Nothing has changed. I’m worried for our pupils, for our neighbours and for Marlon and his family. It really is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt.”
Unless action is taken soon, problems could escalate as the school is due to accommodate an additional 60 pupils in September with a further 90 extra pupils the following year. This would bring pupil numbers up to just over 800, the size of many secondary schools.
There is a glimmer of hope, however, as re-elected Eastville councillor Mhairi Threlfall has called upon assistant mayor Mark Bradshaw to look at the issue.
Cllr Threlfall witnessed the problems first hand whilst she was canvassing by the school for the mayoral elections.
She said: “We have had issues related to parents parking in front of drives or on drives of a number of residents. I think it is important now, that we all come together on this, and work towards a sensible traffic scheme, that protects all children using or crossing the road, that protects residents from undue stress and that protects individuals like Marlon Thomas from a blocked driveway that could have a number of implications.
“I have explained the situation to Mark Bradshaw and asked if there is anything we can do about it even if it is just traffic mitigation methods which would prevent an accident from happening.”
A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of local concerns regarding traffic outside May Park Primary School. Since its expansion and as part of its planning approval, Bristol City Council has installed a raised speed table to reduce speeds and provide safer crossing points, enforceable School Keep Clear markings and double yellow lines to deter inappropriate parking.
“The council has limited resources available to deal with road safety and we have to prioritise as effectively as we can. We focus on where incidents occur that result in injuries to pedestrians, cyclists or vehicle users and where we can make changes that are likely to improve conditions. There has been only one slight injury from road traffic collisions in the last three years in this area which could be attributed to school movements, compared to higher occurrences at other locations around the city.
“Bristol’s neighbourhood partnerships can help improve the safety and feel of roads in their area and are given money every year from the city council to fund traffic schemes. The Greater Fishponds Neighbourhood Partnership can consider measures in this area once the current scheme for 2016/17 nears completion.
“In the meantime, we will continue to work with the school on practical road safety education activities, including speed awareness and pedestrian training.”