Chaos at college gates

Olivia Wyllie, 12, Jack Miles, 11, Debbie Miles, Olivia Miles, 12, Payton Miles, 14, Cameron Wyllie, 10, and Ashleigh Wyllie, 10. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

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Parents of Papamoa College students are raising safety concerns about the traffic chaos they are experiencing when picking their children up from school.

The front school gates are usually open, allowing parents to access a pick-up lane at the end of the school day. Last week the college decided to close the gates from 2.30-3.30pm.

“I’m really concerned because it’s forced a lot of children to run across main roads looking for waiting parents who are now circulating around the school due to the pick-up lane being closed,” says parent Debbie Miles.

Debbie is mother and step-mother to six children, four attending Papamoa College and two attending Papamoa Primary School. Routinely she collects two children from Papamoa Primary at 2.40pm and then drives to Papamoa College, where she parks in the car parks provided and waits for the four older children to finish school at 3.10pm.

On Monday, June 19, she arrived at the college to find the gates closed. Outside the college, chaos resulted with cars circling, double-parking, horns tooting, drivers yelling, and children wandering around and through traffic looking for parents.

As the college encourages feedback, Debbie emailed the principal Steve Lindsey with her concerns.

“Unfortunately over a long period of time there has been an increasing number of people displaying very poor and dangerous behaviour while on campus picking up their children,” says Steve.

“It was very disappointing that a large number of drivers would disregard no parking signs, yellow lines and traffic cones set out to prevent stopping in certain high risk areas. Driving at speed through the staff carpark added to an environment that was becoming increasing unsafe for students as they departed school.”

Debbie says if the school has closed the gates for safety concerns, then all it’s done is push the problem into the community. “If the gates are going to be closed permanently then the children need to be educated on an exit strategy.”

Steve says teachers are talking to students about the need to travel home safely “and especially around being collected by parents”.

Debbie says it’s only a matter of time before a child is hit by a car.

“There are 1000 students running from the school ground to parents’ cars which are double-parked, circling all over the place. It’s so dangerous,” says Debbie.

Other parents also expressed concern.

“Traffic before was poor,” says Jeremy Cunningham, “but the main issue seemed to be children running to their rides through the parked cars. With all the seniors and teachers parking in and around the drop-off area, the additional pick-up traffic is chaotic to say the least. Shutting the driveway seems like the college is washing its hands of any responsibility rather than addressing the issue.”

Papamoa Police are encouraging students, parents and other road users in the area to practice caution at all times as there are a large number of young people in the area. 

“Police have spoken with the school and with the local council in regards to issues with parking,” says Papamoa police Sergeant Tristan Murray. “They are working together to improve safe access.

“One bay remains open for buses. The other bay will remain closed in the interest of student safety. A safer choice is to set up a designated drop-off and pick-up spot further down the road on Doncaster Drive.”

Steve says there is clearly more traffic on the road in front of the school. “It is disappointing to see that some drivers are not following the road rules and also impacting neighbouring properties.”

Although there is an inconvenience factor because students can’t easily be collected directly in front of the school, Steve believes parents are supporting the safety measure of closing the gates from 2.45-3.30pm.

Tauranga City Council transportation manager Martin Parkes says the council is aware of the issues and is working with the college on a plan to improve the situation.

Debbie believes a set of crossing lights will allow the kids to cross at intervals and help reduce the traffic congestion. She’s prepared to volunteer one day per week to help.

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Certainly issues BUT not at ratepayers expense or making

Posted on 09-07-2017 23:30 | By Murray.Guy

Inadequately funded schools, poorly designed critical parking, pickup and drop off facilities seems to be ’par for the course’ at most schools. I can’t help get the feeling that the planners, designers never leave their office and only on a e-bike when they do. It is UP TO THE SCHOOL and Crown entities to ensure these issues don’t arise, and when they do, to fix them. It is NOT appropriate to shift the problem on to public roads and even less appropriate to force the cost on to ratepayers. Step ONE: move the bus lane to that closest the school making it easier, safer for the buses to enter and exit. Step two: Increase monitoring of the public road, reduce school zone speeds. Step three: investigate alternative pickup/dropoff options to include Gordon Spratt Reserve, Tara Rd (students may have to walk a little further).


Posted on 09-07-2017 20:09 | By Papamoaner

I’ve heard of tying up and whipping, but hung drawn and quartered might be stretching it a bit, no pun intended. Seriously though, I can see what a pain in the backside it must be trying to deliver goods there. Rather you than me.

Vocabulary @ Papamoaner

Posted on 09-07-2017 13:39 | By Minib

Your written vocabulary is so discriptive i wonder what books you can put your name to.Also your IQ must be one of highest around as everyone is foolish except you.

How times have changed

Posted on 08-07-2017 17:59 | By Papamoaner

Nobody walks anywhere any more - an invitation for kids to suffer health problems later in adulthood. Hell, I’m so old I can remember what a luxury it was to go to school on horseback for a change every now and then. 4 of us on one horse bareback. Saddles were for the rich folks. Another thing about walking is you get to stop and talk to people. Folks nowadays just pass each other in cars and toot abusively if anyone gets in their way. It’s part of the dehumanising evolution we are all part of now. If you want your kids to avoid osteoporosis in later life, google "bone jolting" and let the little buggers walk to school. Oh, and going to the gym does nothing for you either. It’s benefits seem to be short lived.

Bad Design

Posted on 08-07-2017 11:59 | By tabatha

Whoever designed the college entrance area needs to be hung drawn and quartered. To deliver to the office is a nightmare especially in wet weather. No safe areas for either delivery or for parents. A road for buses only is crazy. One of the worst designed schools I ever delivered too.