Parents face fines of up to £1,000 for 'dangerous' parking at London schools

Havering Council said 1,200 parking fines issued around schools last year were not deterring parents

Lizzie Dearden
Tuesday 02 February 2016 13:29
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Havering Council said 1,200 parking tickets handed out around schools last year had not deterred parents
Havering Council said 1,200 parking tickets handed out around schools last year had not deterred parents

Parents could soon be fined up to £1,000 for parking dangerously while dropping off their children at schools in east London.

Havering Council is using powers under new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) that allows certain kinds of anti-social behaviour to be punished as criminal offences if committed with in pre-defined area.

Local authorities in England have previously used the law to target rough sleeping, uncontrolled dogs, laughing gas, begging and large gatherings of teenagers.

Laughing gas was banned in Lambeth using the same law

But Havering, a borough including Romford and other former Essex towns in north-east London, has chosen to crack down on “increasingly dangerous parking practices” outside schools.

“Despite years of campaigns and requests for parents to behave responsibly, a small but determined minority are continuing to engage in increasingly dangerous parking practices which put the lives of children at risk on a daily basis,” a spokesperson said.

Six schools have been chosen to pilot the scheme starting this spring, which will include designating new drop-off points and training volunteer groups and teachers to issue the tickets.

A spokesperson for Havering Council told The Independent that more than 1,200 tickets issued by traffic wardens over the past year appeared to have little effect as a deterrent.

“We’ve already had kids taken to hospital because of this and one poor woman had her wall knocked down,” he said.

“It’s only a small minority of parents but they take no notice whatsoever of campaigns for safer parking.

“We have had traffic wardens there but they haven’t been a deterrent either so now we are turning it from a civil matter into criminal.”

Wykeham Primary School, in Hornchurch, is trialling the scheme

As well as teachers and volunteers, CCTV cameras will be set up in the designated areas to enforce the measures.

The first three offences will be punished with a fine of £100 and anything after that may see parents taken to court, with the threat of criminal prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

Councillor Robert Benham said: “There are, unfortunately, a small but persistent minority of parents who refuse to consider any alternative to their current dangerous parking practices, and represent an imminent threat to children’s lives.

“We hope that they will come to understand that the new proposals are necessary to keep our children safe.”

Una Connelly, headteacher of one of the affected schools, Wykeham Primary, said she supported the scheme.

"There have been a number of serious incidents involving dangerous driving by parents,” she told the BBC.

"There have also been many near misses, and we're acting before there's a fatality."

The five other schools piloting the measure are Gidea Park, Parsonage Farm, Ardleigh Green, Broadford and Engayne.

PSPOs have caused controversy elsewhere in the country, with councils including Birmingham voting against proposed measures using the powers.

Liberty, the human rights campaign group, has launched several legal challenges against them, saying the orders are frequently being used against homeless people, vulnerable members of society and to “limit freedom of speech and the right to protest”.

Rosie Brighouse, its legal officer, said: “We are witnessing a rash of unfair, overbroad PSPO proposals across the country, which will penalise poverty or criminalise people for exercising their democratic rights.

“We strongly urge other authorities to follow Birmingham City Council’s example in steering clear of these unlawful, excessive and counterproductive measures.”

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