Hell descends as motor mums hit Hampstead
The scene is repeated twice daily in this affluent north London street, where half a dozen schools are situated within a few hundred yards of each other. Traffic grinds to a standstill in Fitzjohn's Avenue and surrounding residential streets, as thousands of children are delivered to and collected from their seats of learning.
The area is well-known as a school-run blackspot because of to its concentration of schools.There are rich pickings for hungry traffic wardens in the afternoon as parents park on yellow lines, in residents' bays and even on the pavement.
John Prescott, the Secretary of State for Transport, would have wept yesterday at the sight of a procession of Ford Galaxys, Land Rover Discoverys, and other gas-guzzlers drawing up outside Hampstead's over-subscribed schools and departing with one small uniformed figure in the back.
"It's a nightmare," said Sharan McTaggart, surveying the scene and fanning herself with a newspaper. Twice a day Ms McTaggart, a nanny, drives to and from Hackney, a 45-minute trip, to drop off and pick up her charges, Flo and Joe Beddle-Brill, aged four and seven respectively, from Devonshire House Preparatory School.
Ms McTaggart plans the school runs with military precision. Mornings she drops the children at the gate; afternoons she arrives at 2.30pm - an hour before the end of school - in order to secure a precious pay- and-display parking space.
Others adopt a riskier strategy. Petrit Riza, picking up his two children, was hovering yesterday on a double yellow line outside Fitzjohn's Primary, hazard lights flashing, engine idling for a swift getaway. Down the road, one optimistic mother had left her Mercedes parked illegally, with a notice displayed on the dashboard saying: "Parent collecting child from school."
There is no alternative to the school run, these parents and nannies claim. Public transport is too complicated and time-consuming, taxis too expensive, car pools too much of a headache to arrange.
Karen Falkner, who lives in Islington, where the poor quality of local schools was highlighted again this week, and who sends her three children to Devonshire House, said: "It's just easier by car."
But one cyclist, white-faced after nearly being hit by a Renault Espace, said: "Fitzjohn's Avenue is hell on earth."
The Espace driver was still behind the wheel examining her nails. Had she ever thought of sharing in a car pool? The woman did not reply, but her expression spoke volumes. It said: "This is my people carrier, and I'm not sharing it with anyone."
David Cameron stung by jellyfish: PM hurt after ignoring advice of locals while on holiday
South Korea ferry: Vice principal rescued from sinking ship found hanged
Oscar Pistorius trial: The case against Oscar Pistorius – and why the prosecution claims his story doesn't add up
Peaches Geldof funeral: Private ceremony to be held at same place as her mother Paula Yates on Easter Monday
Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you've embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father
- 2 Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...