THE road leading to a school will be closed off at the start and end of the day in an effort to maintain social distancing and improve road safety.

Dorset Council has announced the measures for St Martin's Road, which provides access to Upton Junior School.

Council leaders say the plans followed a request by the school, with a hope the move will encourage more families to walk or cycle to school.

However, a ward councillor and former chair of school governors said he is "sceptical" over whether closing the road will work, fearing it will create "total chaos".

St Martins Road will be blocked off to motor vehicles with barriers at the junction with Sea View Road from 8.15am to 9.30am and 2pm to 3.30pm on school days from the start of the new academic year.

The measures are being brought forward by the council under the Schools Streets Initiative, which aims to create safer, healthier and more pleasant environments for everyone travelling to and from school sites.

Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said: “The temporary closure of St Martins Road, Upton, at the start and end of each school day will allow pupils and their parents to keep a safe distance apart from other families as they enter and exit the school grounds.

“It’s been made at the request of the school and in consultation with residents, for whom access will be maintained. Not only will this make the approach to school safer, we hope it will also encourage a healthier lifestyle and active travel to school for families, leading to a better environment for everyone.”

Lytchett Matravers and Upton ward councillor Bill Pipe said he had doubts over the plans the council had drawn up.

"As an ex-chair of the school governors, I know we have tried to tackle the problem of traffic congestion for many years but to no avail. I really do not think it will work.

"You have traffic coming from two directions in Sea View Road, with nowhere to go as St Martins Road will be closed.

"I fear total chaos will ensue. I wish it well and I will be there on the day to see how it works.

"With all good intentions, parents are not going to take any notice. They will still dump their cars where they can and walk their children into school from there."

The closure of the road is being implemented as a trial, which could run for up to 18 months.

The Daily Echo has reported on road safety issues around Upton's schools in recent years.

In April 2019, Upton Infants School, Upton Junior School and two local pre-school groups joined forces to tackle the problem of illegal and inconsiderate parking around their sites. This came after a junior school pupil had a lucky escape after being struck by a car,