Woes at the double on Lytham school run

Signs indicating pavement replacement works at Norfolk Road, Lytham
Signs indicating pavement replacement works at Norfolk Road, Lytham

Pupils at a Fylde high school were hit by a transport ‘double whammy’ with the introduction of parking restrictions and changes to bus services.

While parents were unable to park on Norfolk Road in Lytham because of pavement works, a number of students travelling to St Bede’s RC High by bus on Monday were late arriving in the wake of a major switch to the scheduled service from St Annes via Clifton Drive.

Parents have slammed the ‘idiotic scheduling’ of the works in Norfolk Road, which runs between two primary schools – Lytham CE and St Peter’s RC – as well as leading to Talbot Road, where St Bede’s is situated.

The re-laying of pavements by Lancashire County Council has gone ahead despite an assurance on Friday that they would be postponed.

They are set to last several weeks, during which no parking is allowed on either side.

The County Council has since pledged that the work will only run between 9.30am and 3pm - avoiding peak drop-off and pick-ip times at the schools – and parents have been praised for their understanding and co-operation so far,

But at St Bede’s on Monday, the parking changes were compounded by it being the first working day of service changes by Blackpool Transport. The No 7 route, which previously ran from St Annes every 15 minutes and was served by double deckers has been replaced with an extension to the No 17 route.

That runs every 30 minutes and was served on Monday by single deckers, which were soon full from St Annes and a number of pupils were left at stops.

One parent said: “Children where crying at the bus stop. The next bus not due for half an hour meant that even if they could get on it they would be late for school.”

Blackpool Transport said single deckers were traditionally used on the No 17 route because of overhanging trees on Heeley Road, St Annes, but double deckers were on the route yesterday in a bid to ease the situation.

A spokesman said: “The trees on Heeley Road have been causing damage to our vehicles and have been reported on numerous occasions to Lancashire County Council, but double deck buses were put on this route on Tuesday after the issues on Monday.

“St Annes Square is a key interchange on our network and we constantly review patronage on our routes and service changes are based on this data.”

Andrew Barnett, assistant headteacher at St Bede’s, said: “A number of pupils arrived late at school on Monday as a result of a bus not stopping at all the stops because it was already full.

“We have been in contact with Blackpool Transport to express our concern regarding the deployment of a single decker on this busy service and have joined them in making representations to resolve the trees situation as quickly as possible. We will monitor the situation on a daily basis.”

On the Norfolk Road parking situation, Mr Barnett added: “We are grateful for our parents’ patience and understanding.

“Our priority will always be the safety of our pupils and we have asked parents bringing pupils to school in their cars for their support in adhering to the local parking restrictions to enable pupils to cross the roads as safely as possible and to show consideration to local residents by keeping driveways clear.

“The contractors have updated the school on their plans and their intention to stop work each day at the times when the traffic around the schools is busiest.”

St Peter’s headteacher Angela Heyes said: “We were disappointed at the scheduling of the work and the short notice we received but the County Council has pledged as much as possible will be done to minimise disruption.”

One parent, Kurt Czarnota, said the works has made him 30 minutes late for work.

“I had to park 15 minutes’ walk away from school with a six- and a four-year-old. I am disgusted and outraged at the sheer idiotic scheduling of this work.”

Another parent, Aileen Ames, said: “I can’t believe it’s happening in school time.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “Following the concerns raised about the potential disruption to parents, we had been discussing options to avoid this, including rescheduling the work outside of term time early next year.

“However, upon further reassessment and discussion with the schools and residents, it has been decided that the resurfacing work cannot be postponed due to the potential risk to users presented by the condition of the footway, and it will now be carried out over the next four weeks.

“The work will be carried out between 9.30am and 3pm each day to minimise disruption, and we will leave areas available to be used as points for parents to drop off and pick up their children.”