addarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-up82CF3E98-D323-4B3E-9EDD-EF2E73FB5C9E@1xcancelcircularclockClose IcondowndownloademailIcons / Social / FacebookfilterhomeIcons / Social / InstagramleftIcons / Social / LinkedIn895A4639-EEE0-4BEB-B7D1-CAB21217861B@1xMenu Iconremoverightsearchtagtik-toktranslateIcons / Social / TwitterupIcons / Social / YouTube
This article is more than 2 years old

Community Organising in action: a faith group brings the local community together to build a school traffic campaign

Community Organising in action: a faith group brings the local community together to build a school traffic campaign

By Andrew Bolton, Community of Christ

Our Community of Christ congregation became part of Leicester and Leicestershire Citizens (LLC) in 2018. We are a small congregation on Abbey Lane, Leicester. In November 2020 we participated in the LLC listening campaign – asking our youth groups, coffee morning group, mother and toddler groups and congregation. My wife and I also listened to neighbours on our street near the church. On our street we found out that school traffic twice a day was a big issue. Resident cars were damaged, ambulances delayed and a driver abused, late parents sped dangerously fast up the street.

Our issue was not taken up as one of the top three priorities for Leicester & Leicestershire Citizens that year but we decided we would work on it locally.

In February 2021 we started a Residents School Traffic Committee and were joined by Mrs King, the head of Wolsey House Primary School, Anne Timlock, Community Police Officer, Vijay Rijait, Abbey Ward Councilor and school governor, and Sally Slade from the Traffic Team working on alternatives to parents driving their children to school.

The school invested £30,000 on improving the Field Gate. The Space Centre has become an alternative carpark for the ‘Park and Stride’ programme. Residents wrote a letter and gave it out to driving parents at the beginning of the autumn term 2021. These actions had some impact but not a decisive one on parental behaviour.

So this March and April, residents surveyed 85 out of 120 homes on Orton and Hobson Roads. This was a great way to talk to residents and help organise them. We invited residents to a Public Meeting at the Little Blue Church, our congregational building, just around the corner on the evening of Wednetsday 27th April. There were about 35 people there and the church was full. This impressed the council staff, school head, police and the ward councilor present and who we wanted to influence. Council staff are key decision-makers to persuade and one of them said at the meeting that they had never attended a meeting this big before.

We had two residents talk briefly about their personal experience of the school traffic issue then presented the key results of the survey:

  • 3 beloved cats killed by hit and run drivers
  • 35 resident vehicles damaged
  • 2 ambulances seriously delayed. Driver abused
  • 1 child hit by car reversing onto pavement
  • Parents’ arrogance, rudeness is the worst thing of all
  • 64 said yes (4 no) to a 20mph speed limit on both streets
  • Parking was seen as a big issue at school times - 61 yes/ 7 no
  • Desire for resident parking during school times overall - 42 yes/31 no

People have been complaining for years and are very frustrated with inaction. Here, with survey results of 70% of residents and their presence at the public meeting, there followed a civil but vigorous, and honest discussion. Some good ideas emerged.

We ended the meeting with the following key “asks”:

We respectfully ask the City Council to:

a) Implement 20mph speed limit

b) Introduce residents’ parking during school hours during term time on Orton and Hobson

c) Trial street closure 16th June

d) Give regular updates to residents on progress to these goals

We will continue to work with city council staff and other key stake holders until the school traffic issue is resolved. It has been really good to build community in our local neighbourhood and mobilise it for constructive action. Citizens UK enables us to take our congregational mission of serving the local neighbourhood to a whole new level.

[Community of Christ, Little Blue Church, Abbey Lane, Leicester]

Posted by Fran Picciano-Moss on 15 Nov, 2021