Stalemate of St Albans School bus row

School buses arriving to take children of St Albans School away cause a traffic jam on Romeland Hill

School buses arriving to take children of St Albans School away cause a traffic jam on Romeland Hill - Credit: Archant

There is disappointment among residents in St Albans’ Cathedral quarter after a stalemate was reached over daily convoys of school coaches along narrow historic streets.

Despite the majority of respondents to a survey calling for changes to the way St Albans School transports pupils, the district council has decided to stick with the status quo.

Residents had recently been celebrating a halt to council efforts to effectively turn a graveyard at Romeland, near the Abbey Gateway, into a traffic island so buses could collect and drop hundreds off pupils at the school’s main entrance.

But at a recent council task group meeting on buses, local residents’ calls to pursue “park and stride” options and an immediate resolution to the long-standing problem of coaches being driven down Fishpool Street were ignored.

Buses will continue using the street, despite 47 of the 50 people responding to a council survey on bus transport to St Albans School saying there was a problem.

Difficulties highlighted included danger to pedestrians, damage from coaches, pollution from diesel engines left running and trouble in engaging with the school.

Despite the findings, councillors accepted Herts county council’s advice that the status quo – school buses being driven down Fishpool Street – should continue.

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But there will be changes to a parking area on Romeland Hill to ensure buses only can stop there during school pick-up and drop-off times, with greater enforcement by traffic wardens.

After the meeting a “frustrated” John Hedges of the Abbey Precincts Residents Association said: “We are extremely disappointed by the uncompromising stance of the school, the superficial suggestions of the council and its apparent reluctance to help residents more.

“The council hasn’t put forward a solution.”

However county councillor for St Albans South Sandy Walkington said: “There are no easy alternative options.”

He called for more “productive dialogue” between residents and the school.

Eric Roberts of St Albans Civic Society said: “Where we go from here, I don’t know.”

He said the meeting showed the school’s “apparent unwillingness to compromise as they regard what they do as their right”.

But Mr Roberts emphasied: “The way forward must be more dialogue.”

Cllr Roma Mills admitted the meeting “didn’t get anywhere really”, as the school was not interested in having pupils dropped off elsewhere.

But changes to parking bays on Romeland Hill would stop buses double parking and causing congestion.