Teachers' parking and school runs to be curbed

24th July 1998 at 01:00
Teachers could face car parking charges under Government plans to encourage the nation to use public transport and their feet.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's White Paper, The New Deal for Transport, gives local authorities the power to levy charges for driving into town centres and for workplace parking. The income will then be used to improve public transport.

A Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions spokesman said it intended to look at all workplaces although there could be exemptions for some categories of vehicle, such as those for emergencies and disabled people.

The National Union of Teachers called any idea of parking charges for teachers "ludicrous". Doug McAvoy, the general secretary, said he would talk to the Local Government Association to ensure that schools were not targeted.

But Graham Lane, chair of the LGA's education committee, disagreed. He said it was quite likely that teachers who simply drove to and from school would be charged. "It would be different for people like school inspectors, and instrumental music teachers who use their cars in the course of work."

He added that government proposals to cut down on parents driving their children to school gave insufficient consideration to the unwanted effects of parental choice. This had resulted in more parents opting not to send their children to their nearest schools.

Under the proposals, parents will be discouraged from driving to school by measures such as safer walking and cycle routes, improved public transport plus more lollipop people and cycle sheds. Mr Prescott is said to be alarmed at the four-fold increase in 20 years in children being driven: one in five cars at peak time is on a school run.

Local authorities will have to consult residents, businesses and transport operators to formulate a five-year plan with targets to improve air quality, road safety, public transport and levels of traffic.

Sustrans, the charity which set up the Pounds 42m National Cycle Network with lottery funds in 1995, is working with four councils on safety. It found 60 per cent of Danish children cycle to school compared with 4 per cent in Britain.

Britain has the second-highest child pedestrian casualty rate in Europe - according to Sustrans 50 times more children are killed on roads than murdered by strangers.

Camden council in north London has introduced a successful scheme to encourage parents to share cars or walk groups of children to school. At one school parents cut the number of car journeys by 23 per cent in the first year.

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