Ipswich: Parking officer to patrol outside schools as parents refuse to obey safety markings

Park Smart campaign

Park Smart campaign - Credit: Archant

We had to take action before a child was seriously injured.

Those were the sentiments of community leaders in north east Ipswich who agreed to make funding available for a six-week trial of a parking enforcement officer to tackle problem parking outside schools.

The decision of the borough council’s North East Area Committee to part with the cash came after a four-year-old girl was injured in an incident in Ellenbrook Road, close to Gusford Primary School, last month.

A second child was also hurt in a collision with a car near Cliff Lane Primary School on September 17. Both incidents happened at about 8.40am.

This week the Ipswich Star launched the Park Smart campaign to raise awareness of the issue and encourage parents to park more considerately.

Borough councillor for Rushmere, Alasdair Ross, said there have been issues with parking outside schools for many years, but that the problem is growing.

He added: “We decided rather than just hearing grumbling to do something so we have employed someone to do it and we are working with the schools, who have all been supportive.

“We decided we had to go for a visible presence and one that parents will actually take note of.

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“We want to give them( parents) advice and say, that isn’t a great place to park.

“It will be successful if no one has been given a ticket and the problem has been reduced.”

The officer will be patrolling outside Britannia, Rushmere Hall and Sidegate primary schools and St Alban’s Catholic High School.

The officer has now been in post for about a week and if the trial is successful, it is expected to be made permanent. It is hoped other area committees in Ipswich could take on a similar scheme.

Sandra Gage, county and borough councillor for Rushmere, added: “What I hope it will do is draw attention to parents to the problem and that if they do drive children to school, to park sensibly and be more conscious of road safety.”

This comes as new figures show more than one in three parents in East Anglia have witnessed a ‘near-miss’ outside the school gates.

Following the results of the survey, on behalf of Bridgestone and road safety charity Brake, calls have been made for motorists to slow down and look out when driving.

A total of 36% who were asked said they had witnessed near misses while 55% said they were concerned for their children’s safety when travelling to school.

The survey also found that 67% had witnessed four-11-year-olds crossing the road without holding an adult’s hand, while 17% admitted to parking illegally when on the school run.

Brake spokeswoman Sarah-Jane Martin said: “These are shocking figures, showing just how risky the journey to school can be for kids and parents.

“We’re asking all drivers to slow down and take care, especially around homes, schools and shops. We need to make sure our kids and people of all ages, not just the lucky few, can walk and cycle without being endangered.”

You can join the debate on Twitter using #SchoolParking