Fears changes to Perth roads will increase risk of accidents around schools

Perth residents are pushing back against council plans to restrict drivers’ access and make alterations to city streets near schools over fears the changes will increase the risk of accidents and collisions occurring.

The local authority recently set out proposals to curb the number of vehicles allowed on roads around Perth Academy, Fairview School and Viewlands Primary at busy times as well as make physical changes to some streets to make it safer for pupils to walk to school.

The proposals involve restricting drivers’ access to Murray Place, Murray Terrace, Viewlands Place, Viewlands Terrace, Fraser Terrace, Oakbank Crescent and part of Oakbank Place and providing designated drop-off points along Viewlands Road, Oakbank Road and Fairies Road.

But householders living in Fairies Road are unhappy as the proposals also involve reducing the width of its carriageway to six metres so the council can create a new pavement along its eastern side for pupils and pedestrians to walk on.

They say the road is already heavily used by cars, buses and heavy goods vehicles and reducing its width will only increase the chances of vehicles mounting pavements and striking passers-by or colliding with other vehicles moving in the opposite direction.

They reckon the risk of an accident or collision occurring in their street will be further heightened by the increased number of vehicles redirected to their road by the restrictions being enforced elsewhere.

The same residents say they were left out of any conversations that were had about the changes being introduced unlike those living in the streets where vehicular access will be restricted and are most likely to benefit from the scheme once it comes into effect.

It’s understood the council intends to issue special permits to residents of the streets where traffic is to be curbed that would allow them to continue to drive freely in and out during busy times but it’s not clear how this will be policed at present.

Fairies Road resident David Milsom (66) told the PA this week on behalf of a group of concerned householders living on the street: “We believe narrowing the road will make the options for parents dropping off their children even riskier than they were before.”

Mr Milsom said the group reckon one option council officials didn’t explore properly before deciding to build the new pavement was taking the space for it from school grounds further to the east rather than taking it from the carriageway.

He went on: “It just feels like we’re in a situation where unelected people are imposing their will on residents – it doesn’t feel very fair.”

Perth City South councillor Willie Wilson, who convened a special meeting between residents and council officials this week to go over the group’s concerns, commented: “Intensive discussions are taking place at present between local residents, council officers and local members in an attempt to resolve some of the issues that have been raised by residents.

“There is no doubt communications on the matter have not been good but we must now go forward and try and work together to resolve some of the residents’ concerns.”

A council spokesperson said: “It is our intention to introduce a school exclusion zone (SEZ) around Viewlands Primary School, Fairview School and Perth Academy in an effort to restrict unnecessary traffic movement at school times and ensure road safety.

“Traffic will be displaced from Oakbank Crescent when the SEZ is activated, and some of it will relocate to Fairies Road. This will only be for the duration of the restriction – a short period of time each morning and afternoon during term time.

“The exclusion zone is being introduced as a trial, using a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order. The trial can stay in place for a maximum period of 18 months.

“Travel patterns and displaced parking will be monitored during the trial which will be followed by a full consultation with local residents and key stakeholders to ascertain whether it should become a permanent feature of the area.

“The new footway on Fairies Road is currently under construction and will be a great asset for the children going to and from school as well as residents of the area, regardless of the SEZ being made permanent or not.”

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