Constructive dialogue is essential to solve the car parking problem at St John’s

Written by Councillor Richard Allen on .

Sirs,

I would like to put forward a suggestion that hopefully might begin to resolve the long-standing gulf between St. John’s Academy -- together with its predecessor St. John’s School -- and certain parts of the community that it aspires to serve. It is called constructive dialogue.

With the right amount of forethought and consultation I feel certain that a great deal could have been positively achieved.

Sadly, immediate local residents apparently continue to be alienated by the attitude of the Academy. Equally, to me it was evident that Town Councillors feel equally ostracised.

It seems incredible that Dr Hazlewood leaves it until approximately 72 hours before a key meeting to publish a letter to parents in which he issues an ultimatum of ‘decide in our favour this week or we lose the money’.

Most of the community of Marlborough are justifiably proud of the Academy’s academic record and would welcome the opportunity to support an appropriate expansion of the sixth form.

However, many of the people I speak to also despise the apparently arrogant attitude displayed by the Academy.  This is demonstrated so well by the apparent belief that they do not need to engage in meaningful dialogue with the local community.

Compare this to other proposed schemes that may impact on local people:-

1.      Proposed Deans Garage development –
They publicly exhibited their plans, carried out a consultation and gave a presentation to the Town Council.
Following feedback, amendments were made and plans have now been approved and welcomed.

2.      Proposed Dementia Care Home on Salisbury Road –
They publicly exhibited their plans, carried out a consultation and gave a presentation to the Town Council.
Following feedback, amendments have been made and fresh plans are being proposed.

3.      Proposed Retirement Development on Granham Hill –
They wrote to nearby residents, publicly exhibited their plans, carried out a consultation and gave a presentation to the Town Council.
Following feedback, amendments are being made and fresh plans are being proposed.

4.      Proposed housing development and Nature Park at Rabley Wood –
They publicly exhibited their plans, carried out a consultation and gave a presentation to the Town Council.
Following feedback, amendments are being made and fresh plans are being proposed.

5.      Proposed Town Hall development –
The council publicly exhibited their plans and carried out a public consultation. Following feedback, the project was postponed.  Instead it is likely that parts of the original project will be delivered in small affordable stages.

In each of the above examples, those who had an interest had the opportunity to express their views and in many instances put forward constructive suggestions.

The principal objection to the proposed plans for the new Sixth Form Study Block concerns the parking arrangements.

Currently there is significant tension with many local residents, as due to the inadequate parking provision at St. John’s, there is already an ‘overloading’ of the available spaces in the roads surrounding the Academy.

Perhaps it would have helped to inform the Academy of the size of the problem if they had carried out a survey with local residents in order to identify the current shortfall of on-site parking spaces.

Sadly as it is now exam season, with many students only coming in to school on exam days that opportunity has now been lost until September.

Sixth form students typically, do not attend school for a full day.  They are studying a lesser number of subjects which do not require students for the whole school day.  Many of these students do not live within walking distance of the school and the local public transport is woefully inadequate -- and for many too expensive -- to support this.

Furthermore, the complexity of trying to arrange car sharing when students often have different attendance times to each other is also impractical in many cases.

St. John’s is not being ‘singled out’ on this issue.  Almost every proposed development in Marlborough has parking and/or traffic issues at the heart of the objections.

It is my belief that we are a community that would welcome many developments as being opportunities to enhance and secure the future of this wonderful town.  However, this can only be achieved responsibly.

Without significant improvements to the infrastructure regarding roads and the associated traffic issues, as well as the already drastically inadequate parking provision, we will inevitably see increasing periods of gridlock that are already a daily feature on Salisbury Road in particular.

Hopefully, developers will take this into account from the outset when considering plans for future developments.

Yours,


Councillor Richard Allen
Marlborough

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