School ‘understands residents’ frustration’ after parking problems

Cars were parked on the footpaths around Ballyclare High School. INNT 02-823CON
Cars were parked on the footpaths around Ballyclare High School. INNT 02-823CON

A local principal has responded to claims made by a political representative who described parking issues close to two school open nights as ‘absolute mayhem.’

Ballyclare Progressive Unionist Party representative, Scott McDowell, criticised a number of road users who parked their cars across footpaths and caused traffic flow restrictions while school open nights were taking place in the town.

The annual Ballyclare Secondary School open night for prospective Year 8 pupils was held at the Doagh Road school on Tuesday, January 3.

The following evening, Wednesday, January 4, almost 1,500 visitors attended the 2017 Open Night at Ballyclare High School.

Branding the traffic issues as “absolute mayhem”, Mr McDowell said: “On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week there have been two school open nights. While I agree that these are necessary, the on street parking is not.

“On Tuesday the Doagh Road became grid-locked as inconsiderate motorists parked on both sides of a main road.

“On Wednesday night the very same problems occurred at Ballyclare High School, with cars blocking pedestrian access to footpaths and reducing the Rashee Road and George Avenue to absolute mayhem.”

The PUP representative added: “There are two main car parks in the town. Car owners should use these and then walk the very short journey to the schools. This then keeps main roads clear and allows traffic to flow freely. I would urge police and road service to clamp down on these problems urgently.”

Speaking to the Times, Ballyclare High School Principal, Dr Michelle Rainey, detailed how a number of measures were in place to alleviate traffic problems on open night, but said further assistance to improve the situation would be welcome.

Dr Rainey said: “We are very sympathetic towards the concerns of the residents in the local area in this regard.

“Open night is only one of a number of evening events and it attracts almost 1,500 visitors. Car parking is provided in the back playground, at Fairview Primary, in the grounds of the church and in partnership with ASDA.

“We also employ a building supervisor to marshal traffic entering and exiting the school grounds all evening but beyond that we simply do not have capacity to accommodate all the vehicles.

“The local PSNI is always informed of such events and commit to providing drive-by support if they have the resources to do so.”

Dr Rainey added: “Certainly any further assistance from any agency to ensure the situation is better for our residents would be most welcome. Pedestrian access, sight lines and access to properties are blocked and we can understand the frustration caused.”

The Times attempted to contact Ballyclare Secondary School for a comment, but none was forthcoming at the time of going to press.