AN environmental campaigner has slammed Dudley Council as "incredibly irresponsible" for creating more parking spaces outside a busy school and encouraging greater car dependency - less than a year after declaring a climate emergency.

Norton parent Mark Binnersley expressed concerns about the creation of a parking layby outside Gig Mill Primary School last spring when it was first created, saying he feared it would encourage more parents to drive their little ones to school - rather than walk.

Now the layby, located on the edge a communal grassy area on The Broadway, is being extended to create further parking spaces.

Stourbridge News:

Mr Binnersley, former co-chairman of Dudley Green Party, branded efforts to offer more parking as "outrageous" and he said: "This is incredibly irresponsible, as it is encouraging more car use in a climate emergency. Right now, we should be nudging people away from using cars, particularly on the school run where air pollution is causing serious harm to children's health.

"The move to extend the layby clearly demonstrates that decision makers in our local area have not yet internalised the seriousness of the climate and nature crises. It really is a shame on our borough.

"Dudley Council just seems to be incredibly backwards on environmental stuff."

He said he would be keen to know what steps the school and council are taking "to get parents and kids out of cars as a matter of urgency".

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, Dudley Council's cabinet member for public realm, said the extension of the layby "does not detract from parents walking their children to school" and she added: "I would always support this where possible. However, we must always be mindful that families' personal circumstances can mean this is not always possible for everyone; for example where parents have children at different schools or where they have to continue on to work after dropping off their children or where grandparents have to bring children to school and it is too far to walk and of course the lay-by will be a more secure drop off point."

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She said it had taken some time to secure funding for the first part of the scheme which she gave the go ahead for after receiving a string of complaints about traffic and parking chaos outside the school and she said: "It has now been possible to secure funding to finish the lay-by this year which many people were asking to be done."

She said double yellow lines have also been requested in Shenstone Avenue next to the green area to stop people there and creating difficulty for buses to get by and she told the News: "It will mean that we are not providing additional parking - just moving access to more spaces in the lay-by which are safer."

Work on the lay-by should be completed by the time schools reopen after the Easter holiday.

The project is expected to cost around £35,000 and the funding has come from a regional allocation from the Combined Authority for 2020/21, distributed via Transport for West Midlands.