• Tue. May 21st, 2024

ANPR cameras approved for Oxfordshire School Streets

Byoxfordnewspaper

Sep 10, 2022

CAMERAS will be used to enforce road closures near schools following volunteers being ‘physically threatened’ and verbally abused.

Several schools in Oxfordshire have trialled ‘School Streets’, using trained volunteers to manage temporary road closures.

Oxfordshire County Council has now made the trials at four of those schools permanent – Larkrise Primary School, St Ebbe’s CE Primary School and Windmill Primary School (all Oxford), plus St Nicholas CE Primary School in Abingdon.

ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) enforcement is set to be used at those four schools from the autumn.

READ AGAIN: Cameras set to enforce school road closures after volunteers ‘physically threatened’ and verbally abused

Approving making the trials permanent, while bringing in camera enforcement, Andrew Gant, the county council’s cabinet member for highway management, said: “Clearly this has been a huge effort from volunteers up until now.

“This is a key part of council policy, it makes schools and the area around them safer and more pleasant, it encourages active travel which leads to better health outcomes.”

Oxford Mail: Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highway management. Picture: Ed NixAndrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highway management. Picture: Ed Nix

Parents from Larkrise Primary spoke in favour of School Streets during the council meeting.

Duncan Parkes, who has volunteered during the trial scheme, said: “Over the time that our School Streets has been running, we’ve found it increasingly hard to get volunteers for the barriers, and I’m very pleased to see that ANPR is coming along to take this job off our hands.

“The current School Streets rely heavily on volunteers to keep them going.”

Chris Heron, another parent and volunteer, added: “Regarding the Larkrise scheme specifically, the camera placement is crucial to implementing an effective scheme.

“Many more of our schools should get School Streets more quickly regardless of parent or school support, opposition or ambivalence.”

A council report on School Streets notes volunteers have been ‘physically threatened’ and verbally abused.

The report states: “The volunteers have been using a physical barrier to restrict traffic flow into the School Streets during their closure times.

“The volunteers have also been able to offer in-person advice on the scheme and practice discretion in allowing vehicle traffic through where required.

“Feedback received from volunteers, as well as feedback received through the consultation, is that several drivers have been verbally abusive to volunteers.

Oxford Mail: ANPR cameras are set to be used to enforce road closures near schoolsANPR cameras are set to be used to enforce road closures near schools

“Volunteers have also been physically threatened and challenged as they have not had concrete enforcement power to stop traffic entering the School Street.

“The proposal to use ANPR cameras to enforce the School Street replaces the need for volunteers, removes the risk of face to face tensions around entering a School Street closure zone, and ensures consistency can be practiced in allowing the appropriate exemptions.”

ANPR cameras will be installed this autumn, with School Streets to be operated by volunteers until then.

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Liam.rice@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice