Extra traffic wardens rolled out on full-time basis in Ipswich to tackle dangerous parking outside schools

A PCSO patrolling outside Cliff Lane Primary School in Ipswich.

A PCSO patrolling outside Cliff Lane Primary School in Ipswich.

More than 100 fines have been handed to drivers parked dangerously outside Ipswich schools since February.

Cllr Alasdair Ross says the scheme was started to help keep children safe.

Cllr Alasdair Ross says the scheme was started to help keep children safe.

Extra enforcements officers have been patrolling schools at drop-off and pick-up times for the past five months in an effort to combat illegal and hazardous parking.

Focus has been on schools that are located in busy roads, such as Sidegate Primary School, Britannia Primary School, Copleston High School and St Alban’s Catholic High School.

Between February 22 and June 7, Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) issued 102 penalty notices to motorists across 24 schools in the town.

The extra parking officers have been employed by IBC on a full-time basis to concentrate on schools after a trial funded by the council’s North West Area Committee last year made a positive impact.

Alasdair Ross, who was chairman of the north west committee at the time, said one of the driving forces behind the initiative was a campaign launched by the Ipswich Star called Park Smart. It aimed to highlight the dangers posed by badly parked cars around schools and encourage parents to think more carefully about where they park.

Mr Ross added: “We started it due to concerns from local residents living in the vicinity of schools about inconsiderate parking outside houses, but the main reason why we started it was concerns that a child would be injured or killed in a road traffic collision.

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“When we suggested it it was only weeks later that there was a road traffic accident outside Gusford Primary School, thankfully the child was not badly injured. So we were already thinking about it and putting plans in motion, but then we had the incident at Gusford, your own paper running a campaign, people were concerned, but the priority was child safety, and that’s why we started it.

“We are very pleased it has had a positive response from parents, residents and schools.

Mr Ross said the parking enforcement team worked on “intelligence” and focused on schools where there was a known issue.

In a report about the scheme that is due to be discussed at the council’s South West Ipswich Area Committee next week, it says parking officers had received a “varied” response from parents during patrols, with some becoming abusive and aggressive. It adds: “One case of extreme verbal abuse and threatening language.”

When asked about how much of an issue this was for officers, Mr Ross said: “It’s unfortunate that we get that with parking throughout the town, some people will feel they can park anywhere.

“We haven’t issued many tickets, it’s more about advise and suggesting they move to a safer area, but it’s quite volatile for people and that’s why we always work as a pair so they can diffuse the situation and we work in conjunction with schools so they are aware.”

The report also says the council’s parking team had changed the way it worked to make patrols harder to predict as it appeared some parents did not expect a return visit so ignored parking restrictions in the days following a patrol.

During the three-and-a-half-month period, the greatest number of fines were issued outside schools in the central and southwest areas of Ipswich, with 24 in the Gipping ward and 19 in the St Margaret’s ward.

Mr Ross said he believed the extra officers could make a difference to parking problems outside schools, but it was only part of the fix.

He added: “We need to work with schools, parents and pupils to get the message across - education is the main solution.”