Residents, principal at odds over school entry point

THE principal of Emmaus Catholic Primary School has accused a group of residents of not being “community-minded” after they complained about their court being used as an entrance point to the school.

Principal Brendan Maher addressed a letter to residents of The Gums in Mount Clear in December, in which he defended the right of Emmaus parents and children to access the court.

Owned by the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat, the vacant block at the end of the cul-de-sac backs onto the school and was used as an access point for construction traffic over the first two stages of construction of Emmuas.

Parents have been using the court as a drop off and pick up point for their children via the block, as has the school’s ‘Walking Bus’.

The City of Ballarat received a petition by 16 residents of The Gums last week, calling on the council to compel Emmaus to use the Geelong Road entry and exit infrastructure.

Cal Burns, who lives in one of the houses next door to the block, said residents were now entering the fourth year of the disruption to the court by non-local traffic. 

“Despite our best efforts we have received no recognition of the impact that this untenable situation has had on our health, and residents’ safety,” he said.

Last year, residents also petitioned the Catholic Development Fund over the issue, calling for the school’s ‘Walking Bus’ program to use the footpaths on Geelong Road instead of their unpaved residential street.

But in a letter in December, Mr Maher said signatories to the petition might consider a more “community minded response to students and parents in the future”.

Mr Maher said the Walking Bus program won a City of Ballarat Community Safety Award in 2012 and saw mums and grandparents support children to walk safely to school through The Gums.

The suggestion they were disturbing the peace was mean-spirited, he said.

“I remain committed to the safe and expedient movement of children, parents and staff to and from our school,” he said.

“If the use of The Gums helps meet this end, we will continue to use this access point for a long as we possibly can.”

It comes after the City of Ballarat received a planning permit from Emmaus for the next stage of the school’s construction.

Construction vehicles would have again used the block to access the school.

But the council’s city strategy general manager Natalie Reiter said the route would now be off-limits to construction vehicles, after the application received 10 objections.