School-run row over car park use shifts up a gear

by Emma Nolan
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PARENTS claim that the council told them they would be able to use the Samuel Beckett Civic Centre car park for school drop-offs two years ago.
Following last week’s report on the council’s refusal to allow parents of students who attend schools on the Ballyogan Road to park in the nearby “underused” car park, a local parent revealed to The Gazette that he attended a meeting on this on September 4, 2014.
Brian Leeson, whose two children attend Gaelscoil Sliabh Rua, said that a council representative told parents that they would have permission to use the car park of the Samuel Beckett centre, which was then under construction.
The council said there is “no record of any commitment regarding the permission to use the car park”.
However, The Gazette obtained the minutes of this meeting, which was attended by 16 parents, a community garda from Cabinteely Garda Station, and a council representative.
The minutes state that the council representative said: “there will be a car park built across the road from the school in the new civic centre”.
“This will be completed by mid-January and will have an adequate number of spaces for the school. There will be 40 minutes of free parking provided,” it read.
The issue with the parking and traffic congestion at the school, and neighbouring Stepaside Educate Together, stems from their location.
The schools were meant to serve a proven demand in the Ballinteer and Stepaside feeder area, but they are actually located outside this catchment area, which has resulted in children needing to be driven to and from school every day as it is unsuitable for them to walk or cycle.
Leeson estimates that some parents are required to make two 14km round trips per day, or 5,600km per year, for the school drop-offs and collections.
An alternative solution to the problem would be for the council and the Department of Education to provide a school bus service, according to Leeson, who said that the traffic situation will get worse with each new intake of children every September until the school is at its full capacity with more than 500 children and staff.
He said: “It’s extremely dangerous, as so many cars and young children are concentrated into such a small area without adequate parking.
“The council and the Dept of Education created the mess, and it’s up to them to sort it out by opening up the car park, providing school wardens and putting on school buses to bring children from the likes of Ballinteer and Stepaside.
“The pupils and the residents of Ballyogan deserve no less.”

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