Roads boss calls out parent’s illegal school parking

An Essex highways chief was left “appalled” after a parent who had parked dangerously outside a school told him she didn’t care about getting a ticket because she could afford it.

Councillor Lee Scott, Essex County Council cabinet member for highways, said many irresponsible and selfish drivers needed to alter their mindset if children were to be guaranteed safety outside their school.

Councillor Scott told the place services and economic growth committee on November 17 that while the council was trying to improve streets affected by picking and dropping off congestion, parents also needed to shoulder their part by parking and driving responsibly.

His own experience of how widespread illegal parking comes after he confronted one mother while making a visit to one school last week he chose not to name.

He said: “While we were there I approached a lady who was collecting her child from school and had decided to park a 4×4 literally on the corner of the junction.

“So I approached her and said ‘firstly do you realize you’re illegally parked and secondly children are walking here and this isn’t safe’.

“And I was appalled because her comment was ‘I don’t care if I get a ticket I can afford it and I don’t care about anyone other than picking up my child now’.

“She did get a ticket because I personally took her number plate and reported her, but that’s not the point.

“The point is it is a mindset change we have to get into and people who I’m afraid don’t care. And that is a very big problem because it goes beyond anything one can do if someone doesn’t care.

“And it comes down then to enforcement but we do want to make our school areas safer. Within the financial restraints, and I’m not hiding from anyone we’re going to have in the coming year, certainly we will try and do our best to achieve that.”

Tracey Vickers, head of sustainable transport at Essex County Council, said while some schemes to change behaviour through messaging are relatively cheap enforcement and safety funding could be an issue given the expense of installing cameras or new zebra crossings.

Its Healthy School Streets programme which aims to improve the street environment outside schools across the county costs between £250,000 and £1million per street depending on the complexity.

She said: “It depends on the intervention. You can start quite small with just behavior change working with the local school and getting the schools to lead it or you can be top down and introduce traffic management interventions.

“A couple of cameras if we wanted to go down the camera enforcement that’s £70,000 a new safe zebra crossing is about £100,000 we had £160,000 pounds in the budget this year and we are aiming to work with as many as we can next year funding dependent.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter