PRAISE has been mostly unanimous for a recently introduced road closure outside a school during peak times following “unsafe” travel concerns.

As reported, the BCP Council led School Streets initiative has seen Somerville Road outside St Michael’s CE Primary School close from 8am-9am and again from 2.15pm-3.15pm.

The trial was implemented after staff at St Michael’s said they were growing increasingly concerned about pupil safety as traffic jams built outside the school.

Following the first day of the trial on February 28, feedback has been “overwhelmingly” positive.

Somerville Road resident Brian Sutcliffe lives just opposite the school gates and told the Echo: “I think it’s really working well. As residents of course it’s good to get rid of the traffic, but it is so much more civilised now.

“There’s been a reduction in pollution which was one of the aims but it’s not just about that because it really was unsafe. Now we have families in the road, people talking to one another – it’s a completely different atmosphere.

“As I said, it’s more civilised and we’re getting much more a community feel.”

Brian added he and other nearby residents have started joining parents and staff members as traffic marshals.

Bournemouth Echo: Parents enjoy road closure scheme in Somerville Road, Bournemouth, outside St Michael's CE Primary SchoolParents enjoy road closure scheme in Somerville Road, Bournemouth, outside St Michael's CE Primary School

Echoing Mr Sutcliffe’s praise was St Michael’s headteacher Anthony Evans – who just last year described the state of the road at pick up and drop off times as “not safe”.

Now more than one month into the closure, Anthony said: “This time last year I was out on the road feeling quite exasperated by the speed of some cars, dangerous parking and it’s a real sharp contrast to what we’ve got now.

“Children walk, scoot or cycle down the middle of the road in groups and we’re now seeing a really lovely atmosphere. Drop off and pick up was quite tense before but now we’re able to talk to parents and children and it means the day starts and ends in a more peaceful fashion.

“I think overwhelmingly, parents would not want it to go back to how it was.

“The first few days it was a bit of a shock to people of course but now it’s just second nature, we did worry there’d be an overspill into other local streets but we’ve got no data or anecdotes to say that.

“I’ve worked in schools for 25 years and this sort of thing has always been an issue and I think every school should have a street like this right across BCP.”

There will be an end of six-month report as part of the ongoing consultation. After ending in August, officials will decide whether to make the change permanent.