Calls for drivers leaving engines running outside Southend schools to be fined

Drivers who leave their engines running outside schools in Southend could soon be hit by fines.

A Labour councillor is calling for the practice to be stamped out to protect children from harmful fumes as they travel to and from the city’s schools.

Donna Richardson, Labour councillor for Blenheim Park ward, called on Southend City Council to outlaw idling outside schools.

In her motion to the council, Cllr Richardson said: “An idling engine can produce up to twice as many emissions as an engine in motion.

“This unnecessary source of pollution causes damage to our environment and is a particular issue outside our schools. Action must be taken to prevent and discourage vehicle idling.

“Idling increases the amount of exhaust fumes in the air and these fumes contain a number of harmful gases including carbon dioxide, which is bad for the environment and contributes towards climate change, as well as a range of other harmful gases including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons which are linked to asthma and other lung diseases.”

The motion has been backed by Daniel Cowan, Labour councillor for St Laurence ward. He said: “It is a problem. It’s a problem in St Laurence ward as well.

“We know it’s problem across the city. Every school has parking problems which means more parents turning up earlier in order to secure a parking space.

“If it’s winter time their engines are on so they can keep warm and if it’s summer time the engine’s on so they can keep cool.

“We know it’s a problem that needs to be tackled but a lot of it comes down to parent and driver behaviour.

“There is existing legislation around idling and what we are looking to do is see the council enforce the existing legislation so that we can promote a positive culture of walking to school wherever possible and when people aren’t able to walk to school that they are using their cars responsibly and turning their engines off outside schools.”

The Highway Code states drivers must not leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while the vehicle is stationary on a public road.

Local authorities have the power to issue a £20 fixed penalty notice for emission offences and stationary idling if a motorist refuses to switch off their engine.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter