FOUR bus services in a Moorlands village are being cancelled this Spring – due to “inconsiderate parking.” Community leaders in Kingsley have, since November, held meetings in the hope of saving the bus services which go through their village at school drop-off and pick-up times. But despite sending notices to parents about parking issues outside St Werburgh's School, no improvement has been made. The journeys being withdrawn by First Potteries, as of April 8 are: 8.39am from Kingsley to Hanley; 8.47am from Kingsley to Cheadle; 3.11pm from Kingsley to Cheadle and; 3.14pm from Kingsley to Hanley.
In November, Operations Manager at First Potteries, Dan Flanagan, attended a Kingsley Parish Council meeting to outline problems that were being experienced by the company’s drivers in Holt Lane, Kingsley, by parking congestion at school drop off and pick up times.
Chairman of Kingsley Parish Council, Ken Unwin, further explained: “He told us that the situation had worsened over the previous six to eight months, and explained that cars are parked along sections of Holt Lane, including a blind bend, which results in buses and cars having to drive on the wrong side of the road with no clear view of the road ahead.
“Cars are parked for quite a long duration making it difficult for the drivers to pass safely along Holt Lane or pull up at the bus stop.
“He told us that unless the situation could be rectified, they would be left with no alternative but to amend their route to miss out the villages of Kingsley and Kingsley Holt at the material times.”
A meeting was then held in December at the village hall which was attended by representatives of First Potteries, St Werburgh’s School, Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Kingsley Parish Council as well as a parent’s representative.
Cllr Unwin said: “It was generally agreed by all parties attending the meeting that the problem was real and not exaggerated, and that the loss of bus services to Kingsley and Kingsley Holt at these times would be very unwelcome.
“A number of actions were instigated, including a notice to all parents fully explaining the situation, a survey of parents with children at St Werburgh’s and a site visit by Staffordshire County Council highways department.”
However, despite efforts to improve the situation, at another meeting which was held on Friday, February 15, and which was attended by the same representatives, it was announced that the four bus services would come to an end in April.
Cllr Unwin said: “It was suggested that there had been only a limited improvement in the situation.
“It was noted from the parent’s survey that between 40 to 50 per cent of children attending the school are from the wider area, outside Kingsley and Kingsley Holt, and as such could not be expected to walk to school.”
A number of options were discussed, but then decided as not viable, such as off-road parking on school grounds, council owned land, or private land; parking restrictions could be put in place; or a “school meet/greet” initiative at the school’s entrance.
Cllr Unwin said: “In short, no solutions were found to prevent the potential loss of Route 32 bus services at these material times, which on school days will travel directly from Cheadle to Kingsley Moor, or vice versa.
“We are continuing to work with St Werburgh’s School and other key parties to try and find a solution to the problem.
“First Bus will reconsider the situation if a practical answer can be found.”
Mr Flanagan, from First Potteries, told the Times & Echo: “Several meetings have taken place involving First Potteries, St Werburgh’s School in Kingsley, Staffordshire County Council, the parish and district councils to discuss the ongoing problem of inconsiderate parking outside the school.
“Pre-Christmas, we were forced to look into removing some journeys at busy times around the school entrance as vehicles were blocking the road and not allowing buses access, causing considerable road safety concerns and inconvenience to people wanting to use the bus.
“Unfortunately the situation has not improved and on many occasion buses have been blocked and unable to travel along the road because of the growing number of parked cars.
“Due to the situation, four journeys are being withdrawn from the timetable on April 8 and unless the parking situation improves, a reduced frequency will continue on this part of the route.”
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