One way vexes school principal

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 10:28 02/11/2012
Sue and Dick Snell
SARAH DUNN/FAIRFAX NZ
HAZARD: Richmond School principal Tim Brenton on Church St next to his school. Tim said between 15 and 40 cars deliberately went the wrong way up Church St each day

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Richmond School principal Tim Brenton is fed up with people driving the wrong way up Church St next to his Cambridge St school.

Despite two ‘‘No Entry’’ signs and numerous road markings on Church St, Tim estimated between 15 and 40 cars go the wrong way up the road each day.

He said drivers ‘‘deliberately diverted’’ past the school to get to the highway on Gladstone Rd without meeting traffic lights.

This was a hazard to young students who used the two Church St courtesy crossings to their playground and sports field. Students had difficulty understanding the give-way rules around courtesy crossings, he said, and having cars coming from an unexpected direction made it worse.

Tim wanted one of three things to happen: the road to be designated for two-way traffic, the courtesy crossings replaced with pedestrian crossings or Church St to be blocked off completely.

‘‘It definitely needs to be looked at big-time,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re lucky we haven’t had a major accident before now.’’

Tim said he had had an ‘‘ongoing dialogue’’ about Church St with the Tasman District Council since starting at the school in 2002 and last spoke with council staff about it in late July. He said he reported illegal use of Church St to police about once a month but found the reporting process time-consuming and distracting from his role as an educator.

‘‘We’re not going to go out [to the police station] and keep on doing that all day, every day, because that’s not our job,’’ he said.

Council communications manager Chris Choat said the council had installed signs on the road last year at Tim’s request and agreed that the problem affected people in the area as well as school children. He said Church St could be confusing drivers as the first part was two-way, then it became one-way.

‘‘It’s an odd street,’’ he said.

Chris said if drivers were ignoring the signs, their use of the road became an enforcement issue for the police to handle.

Richmond community police constable Glenn Lloyd-Jones said officers regularly parked around Church St outside school hours to keep an eye on drivers but 90 per cent of infractions happened when they were not there.

‘‘It does happen and we do try our best but sometimes we’re just not there at the right time,’’ said Glenn.

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He said if officers did catch a driver going the wrong way up the road, they issued tickets straight away as there was ‘‘not really any excuse not to’’. The police came and spent more time monitoring Church St when the school let them know that the problem was on the increase but scaled back their surveillance if the school did not report any trouble.

Glenn said he patrolled the area approximately once a week but did not know how often his fellow officers did.

‘‘If we’re not regularly told that an issue is happening down there, we can’t go down there,’’ he said.

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