Community centre car park ban blasted by mums

From left, Christina Pichel, Jenny Dear, Lesli Goddard, Louise Weston, Sharon Morris.

From left, Christina Pichel, Jenny Dear, Lesli Goddard, Louise Weston, Sharon Morris. - Credit: Archant

“Carnage” will ensue, say parents, if a community centre car park used daily for the school run is made out of bounds next year.

The Golden Acre Community Centre car park next to Katherine Semar Junior and Infant Schools in Saffron Walden has for years been used by parents dropping off and picking up their children.

On Tuesday, the town council, which owns the property, informed parents in an email sent round the school that from January onwards they can no longer use it – and are installing bollards and the use of bollard keys to enforce this.

Jenny Dear, who currently uses the car park to drop her six-year-old son Sebastian off at the Infant School, said: “It is going to be detrimental and it is going to make it more dangerous for children. They will need to put in a pedestrian crossing as people will be parking in more dangerous areas. It’s ridiculous.”

“It’s been used for many years and not caused a problem to any users of the centre. People aren’t using the centre during the day, especially during these times of day, so our parking there doesn’t affect those who hire the centre.”

Sharon Morris, mother of two children attending the schools, said: “There’s going to be way more disturbance to the residents because of this. The town council just keep chip, chip, chipping away at things that make life bearable. Where’s the word community in community centre?”

Another mother who uses the car park, Louise Weston, agreed the move would cause “carnage”.

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Town clerk Gordon Mussett told the Reporter:

“Although Golden Acre is a community centre that doesn’t give anyone the right to park there, only those hiring the premises. What we’ve discovered is that not only is it being heavily used by parents doing the school run, it is also being used for all-day and overnight parking. The car park surface is somewhat aged and we’d like to extend its life as long as possible, so we are reinstating the bollards and giving bollard keys to hirers in an attempt to prevent unauthorised access.

“The alternative would be a hike in Council Tax to cover the cost of resurfacing the car park, which nobody wants to see.

“I am conscious there are parking issues in the vicinity of the school and will be talking to the Police regarding enforcement. In the meantime we are launching a campaign, including applying for a Public Entertainment Licence, to encourage greater use of Golden Acre, and having a car park available for hirers is part of that process.”

Golden Acre Community Centre was built in 1986, and is currently hired out via the town council website for £12 an hour, hosting activities, clubs and parties.