SPECIAL REPORT: Clamping down on school parking

Cars parked in Grange Park Way opposite Churwell Primary School.

Cars parked in Grange Park Way opposite Churwell Primary School.

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The issue of school parking has angered local residents for many years and the problem looks set to continue with complaints from schools across the area.

In a recent crack down on illegal parking, police officers have been handing out fines of £30.

Carol Allen.

Carol Allen.

Insp Paul Sullivan, area commander for Morley Neighbourhood Policing Team, said that the police are being proactive because parking around schools can be “atrocious.”

He said: “We are doing our best at managing the parking situation, although we can’t stop people misbehaving.

“In the worst cases, school parking problems are caused by absolute laziness, if people could drive into the classrooms, they would. This is why we’re moving into on-site parking ticket enforcement in the worst areas.”

After warning parents about dangerous parking, police officers targeted Churwell Primary School last week, handing out the Fixed Penalty Notices as part of Operation Deedcrest, which focuses on the issue of anti-social parking.

Churwell Primary School’s deputy headteacher Rupa Barson said that parking remains an issue at many schools across the city.

“We regularly update and remind parents about parking in our newsletters as well as promoting a ‘park and stride’ scheme at All Saints Church,” she said.

But on Facebook, Shaun Stephenson described the parking around Churwell Primary as “a fatal accident waiting to happen.”

Mum Carol Allen, 51, whose 11 year-old daughter goes to Churwell, said: “It’s horrendous. It’s a wonder there isn’t an accident. It’s inconsiderate and they are ignorant. They think the laws don’t apply to them.

“A lot of them are very argumentative and they can be quite nasty and they will give verbal abuse. I have heard it, they have not said it to me.”

And Carol White added: “The way people park puts children, parents and the crossing patrol at risk.”

Drighlington Primary school, like many others, also recognised the fact that there are a shortage of parking spaces in the near vicinity.

Headteacher Sue Jackson said: “We encourage our parents and carers to be considerate and to understand their role in ensuring that children and families are able to access school safely.

“It is also important to remember that ill-parked vehicles can have an impact on the lives of local residents. We aim to keep good relationships with local residents.”

Over in Tingley as well, the situation around Westerton Primary School has been described as a “nightmare.” Vicky Panther said that people “dumped” their cars rather than park them.

Caroline Spillane, who lives on Hesketh Lane near Westerton Primary, previously complained to the Observer & Advertiser about selfish parking outside her home.

She said: “There have been times when we cannot pull in or out of our driveway or we are completely blocked in.”

And Seven Hills Primary school on Appleby Way in Morley has also had its problems.

“The parents park illegally all the time. It’s a nightmare and very dangerous for the children,” said Caroline Stainburn.

Julz Simon added: “Peel Street is a nightmare on a morning, and there are several car parks within a five minute walk of the school!”

Local mum Allison Ward, whose son attends Asquith Primary School, said that parking will always be an issue if parents have to rush to get to work.

“There are big problems parking on the Ingle Estate. Most parents are working and so walking is not always an option. I used to park at the Arkle pub and walk, but the school moved the start time on by five mins, and as I changed my job last year and now only work in Morley town centre it now means I have about three minutes to get to work for 9am, unless I pay extra for breakfast club.”

She said that some parents arrive at 8.30am to park as near to the school as possible so they can get straight off to work, but other people arriving later than that block them in, blocking driveways and other restricted areas.

Mrs Ward added that a possible solution would be for the schools to extend dropping-off times by 15 minutes so the traffic was spread over a longer period, rather than everyone rushing at 8.55am.

Newlands Primary on Albert Road is suffering from parking issues and traffic congestion more than most, with the ongoing construction of the new school building.

Morley town councillor Wyn Kidger, who previously lived near Newlands, said: “If more parents who lived nearby walked the problem would be lessened instantly, but we are taking into consideration parents who have to rush to work.

“The road is absolute bedlam and it’s not long before there’s going to be an accident.”

Walking buses, fines, signs and longer drop-off times have all been suggested as possible solutions to the school parking problem.

Morley town councillor Robert Finnigan visited Morley Victoria Primary school last week to discuss the issues affecting it.

He said: “In this case we have tasked the Highways Section with introducing some additional yellow lining to prevent inconsiderate parking. If the lining is correct then we can enforce more vigorously.”

Coun Finnigan said that most schools in the area have similar problems and it was only a handful of people who parked anti-socially.

He said: “We also support all schools who work hard to get the message across about inconsiderate parking, who send letters to parents to confirm the danger they pose as well as supporting schools to promote alternatives to taking children to school by car such as walking buses.”

Coun Finnigan added: “I believe we need a zero tolerance approach to the small number of inconsiderate parents who put their own child and other children at risk.” What do you think about school parking? Let us know, by emailing us at editorial@morleytoday.co.uk or tweet us @MorleyOb using the hashtag #SklParkingMOA

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