A VILLAGE action group has been formed in a bid to secure land opposite its new primary school as a car park to improve road safety for pupils.

Residents who set up The Friends of Kirk Merrington plan to seek charitable status and run the non-political voluntary group to make improvements in their community.

The first project, and the reason the group was established, is to create a car park that can be used by parents dropping off and collecting pupils at Kirk Merrington Primary School.

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The earmarked land is owned by Durham County Council and was used as a building compound while the old wooden school was replaced with a modern £3.4m school, which opened almost a year ago.

Once the work was complete the authority was asked by Durham County Councillor Brian Avery if it could be used as a car park rather than turned back into agricultural land.

He said: “The new school is fantastic but the narrow road outside has always been dangerous and with more places and a lot of pupils coming by car the situation was getting dangerous.

“Residents were complaining about cars parking over their driveways and cars were blocking the view of the road when people tried to cross.

“This land will give space for parents to pull in away from the roadside, get their children in and out of the car and across the road safely.”

The new Friends group hopes to agree a long-term lease with the county council and Spennymoor Town Council will permit access to the site from its car park, next to Kirk Merrington Preschool.

Coun Avery has pledged £1,000 from his members initiative fund towards legal fees, rent and costs such as insurance and fencing that may be required.

Resident Joan Lister, whose two grandchildren are Kirk Merrington pupils, collected a 270-name petition supporting the move for a permanent car park.

She said: “It was an accident waiting to happen so there was overwhelming support from pupils’ families and people living near the school.”

Stephen Gilling, secretary of the Friends, said: “The group will be independent and not for profit, there for the community and public benefit.

“The first aim is to secure that land as a car park but we will look to make improvements in the village as issues arise.”