Westcliff teachers’ free parking permits set to be axed

A controversial scheme which gave teachers free parking permits for streets surrounding a Westcliff school is set to be scrapped after complaints from residents.

Teachers at St Bernard’s High School, in Milton Road, Westcliff, were given “educational parking permits” at the start of the year after struggling to find spaces when resident-only parking rules introduced two years ago.

Furious residents have been at loggerheads with Southend City Council ever since, claiming teachers were “flooding the roads” and preventing them from parking.

At Thursday night’s traffic regulations working party meeting, the new administration said the trial will likely be scrapped because residents “are not happy”.

Daniel Cowan, chairman of the committee and Labour leader of the council, said: “There is a trial scheme going on until the end of July and once the scheme is finished we will take a view. My view at the moment is we will not be proceeding with this into the new school term.

“The ending of the trial has come about because of the overwhelming views of the people who are not happy with what has happened and do feel it is causing an issue where they live and we have a duty to listen to them. I haven’t had a single email saying this is positive.

“I’ve been portfolio holder for about ten days and I’ve had countless emails about this particular issue.”

Families living near the school previously campaigned for a residents’ parking scheme to be introduced because of issues surrounding school parking. Sam Allen, Labour councillor for Milton Ward, added: “There are so many issues around this. Residents are really up in arms in this particular section of my ward.

“If it is scrapped it will be a welcome development. I know there is the possibility of a review and I will welcome that. Scrapping of the permit would restore harmony in that section of Milton Ward.”

Resident, Mark Coe, said the scheme had been introduced in an “underhand manner” without consultation.

He added: “I am pleased but concerned the council will come up with some other solution without consulting residents. Residents did have a conversation with the school recently and they explained to us they weren’t aware we hadn’t been informed. They were surprised at the lack of communication. They were open to working with residents.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter