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Councils to punish parents for driving to school gates

Parents stung with fines of up to £130 for driving in 'restricted zones' on the school run

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Parents stung with fines of up to £130 for driving in 'restricted zones' on the school run

Parents across the country face tough restrictions – including fines – for driving their children to the school gates on their school run.

A survey of councils has found that many are enforcing laws preventing parking immediately outside the school gates, using CCTV cameras and mobile monitoring vehicles in a drive to improve road safety and tackle pollution.

But some are going further with schemes that close the roads in the immediate vicinity of schools to most traffic during the school run, with parents facing fines of up to £130 in some cases for driving in the restricted zones.

Other local authorities are considering "no-idling" zones with fines for parents and carers who leave engines running outside schools.

School run restrictions

In Solihull, West Midlands, a "School Streets" pilot is restricting traffic on streets around three schools at the start and end of the school day, preventing parents and carers driving youngsters to the gates.

Ted Richards, Solihull Council's cabinet member for transport and highways, said: "We know that most people do drive responsibly, but it can often be chaotic outside schools at drop-off and pick-up times.

"The aim of school streets is to create a safer and more pleasant environment for everyone around schools."

Croydon, South London, has also brought in traffic restrictions on roads outside three schools for the morning and afternoon school runs.

Automatic number plate recognition cameras scan vehicles passing through the zones and those without permits - which residents and their visitors can apply for free of charge – face a £130 penalty charge, or £65 if paid within a fortnight.

Stuart King, Croydon's cabinet member for transport and environment, said: "The temporary number plate cameras will help our officers make a fair decision on who can drive through the pedestrian zones and who can't, allowing residents, their visitors, school staff and delivery drivers to go about their business as usual."

Elsewhere in London, Hackney is planning a school streets trial around five schools, while Camden is piloting a scheme which closes the road outside a school with bollards at the start and end of the school day.

Edinburgh started restrictions around a number of schools in 2015.

'Drive a wedge'

And in the wake of guidance from health bodies suggesting parents should face fines for breaching "no-idling zones" to protect children from pollution, Sheffield City Council is consulting on whether to bring in idling fines outside schools.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, said many parents had to make the school run by car on their way to work and many schools and surrounding roads were not equipped for this reality, leading to congestion, pollution and road safety issues.

But he said: "Fines are often a blunt tool for councils to use and can drive a wedge between parents and schools even though head teachers have no role in administering them.

"Councils must work with schools and local communities to ensure that roads around schools work for everyone," he said.

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