THE borough's environment chief has insisted a scheme to create a parking layby outside a Stourbridge school will not deter parents from walking their children to school.

Work is currently underway to create parking spaces for eight cars along The Broadway in Norton on the edge of a grassy area outside Gig Mill Primary School.

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, Dudley's cabinet member for environmental, highway and street services, said the layby plan was devised after a string of complaints about motorists blocking traffic by parking on the street and worries about the risk of accidents.

Concerned parent Mark Binnersley, co-chairman of Dudley Green Party, however, has expressed frustration about the scheme - saying: "This is how not to do local politics: implement a road scheme without consulting the community."

He said members of the community wrote to cllr Shakespeare calling for a different approach to tackling the problems but he added: "It fell on deaf ears. The many parents I spoke to had not been asked whether they wanted a layby. The headteacher of the school had not even been asked - nor the school crossing woman.

"In this layby, what we now have is a message to parents to prioritise using your car to take the kids to school, creating an air quality issue and entrenching car dependency. There has got to be a better way."

Cllr Shakespeare, however, says she consulted with residents on The Broadway in early 2019 and she had been trying to get funding since then.

She told the News: "This is the first of the changes that residents requested. Incidents in the past where buses have been unable to pass along The Broadway because of parked cars contributed to this piece of work being the first.

"More recently I updated Norton Green tenants and residents meeting and they were fully supportive and, like some other residents, asked why only eight spaces and not more. My response was available funding at the time."

She said she had called the headteacher at Gig Mill on several occasions and had also spoken to the school crossing patrol and parents when the markings were put down and she added: "They were supportive of the changes and offered up suggestions for traffic regulations on other roads."

She insisted: "This does not detract at all from encouraging parents from walking their children to school and I would always support this where possible.

"However, we must always be mindful that families' personal circumstances can mean that this is not always possible for everyone - for example where parents have children at different schools they have to continue on to work after dropping their children at school or the grandparents have to bring the children to school and it is too far to walk."

Work on the layby is expected to completed shortly.