Primary school pupils affected by plans to build a new road system around a Barnsley park have been asked to help councillors decide on measures to improve other open spaces in the area – with the possibility of an additional area of parkland being created.
Barnsley Council announced plans earlier in the summer to build a ‘gyratory’ road system around Penny Pie Park, at the Dodworth Road crossroads, which has become an increasing traffic bottleneck.
Councillors accept the new road is a ‘least worst’ option, with alternatives including the demolition of homes in the area and there is a campaign against the changes among those who live in the area.
Pupils at Summer Lane Primary School are among those who use the park and they have included the issue in some of their ‘persuasive writing’ work, discussing the arguments around whether it is correct to see the popular amenity affected, as well as creating posters to draw attention to the issue.
They have been helped by Councillors Phillip Lofts and Jo Newing, who both represent the Old Town ward which includes the school, with a visit to explain to two classes what the changes will mean and what can be done to minimise the impact of the new road.
Coun Lofts told the pupils there was vacant land near West Road in Pogmoor, which could possibly be used for public open space in future.
It is on the opposite side of a railway line to Penny Pie Park and Coun Lofts had asked for a connecting bridge, though that had been ruled out on cost grounds.
However, there are also several other parks in the immediate area and it is hoped two of those, Sugden’s Rec and Hollingworth Park, can both be improved by using council money which is available to spend in the area.
“Some of the swings and football pitches are already in there but we have a bit of money where we can work with the head teacher and you to come up with ideas to make sure you have the facilities you deserve in this area,” he said.
Coun Newing added: “Cars are not going to go away and as you grow up, you might want a car and we need to be able to manage that.”
Among the concerns of children were the loss of recreational space and the impact of trees being removed to make way for the new road, with the councillors explaining that making the junction flow better, air quality was expected to improve and that most of the park would remain after the road was installed.
It also emerged that steps will be taken to ensure a landing area for the air ambulance remains intact.
At present, Penny Pie Park is used and that may remain, or measures may be taken for the aircraft to use Hollingworth Park instead.
Summer Lane pupils will use the knowledge they have gathered to help focus their further work on the topic.