THE use of cameras to enforce road closures near schools is set to be signed off this week.

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

Oxfordshire County Council is now set to make the trials at those schools permanent, while using ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) enforcement.

This follows volunteers being ‘physically threatened’ and verbally abused.

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A council report on School Streets 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.

“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.”

Oxford Mail: A School Streets volunteer in Bicester. Picture: Oxfordshire County CouncilA School Streets volunteer in Bicester. Picture: Oxfordshire County Council

The aim of School Streets is to ‘create an environment where people can walk, wheel, cycle, scoot, or park and walk to school with lower air pollution and traffic congestion, and make the school gate environment safer for children’, the council report states.

On Thursday, the county council’s cabinet member for highway management, Andrew Gant, will make the delegated decision on the future of School Streets.

The four schools which have been trialling School Streets, under Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (ETROs), are: Larkrise Primary School, St Ebbe’s CE Primary School and Windmill Primary School (all Oxford), plus St Nicholas CE Primary School in Abingdon.

The ETROs are set to expire on November 23 for three of the schools, while for Windmill Primary, the ETRO currently expires on September 21.

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

The council report adds: “The four schools under this proposal are self-nominating and are fully supportive of their School Street becoming permanent, with enforcement using ANPR camera.

“Although the consultation has indicated high levels of support for School Streets, the consultation has also highlighted concerns of traffic displacement and inconsiderate parking.”

These concerns will be fed back to the council’s parking enforcement team, the report says.

It adds: “Further traffic displacement and parking issues will be monitored by the council going forward, with a focus on encouraging safe and considerate practices.”

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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.

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