School parking in the spotlight

Parking lessons: School parking in the spotlight.
Parking lessons: School parking in the spotlight.
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MOBILE cameras to enforce bus lane and parking restrictions around Sheffield have been approved but councillors will be powerless to prevent one of the main problems - dangerous parking outside most schools.

One of the key aims of the cameras is cracking down on rogue parents who park where they shouldn’t when dropping off or collecting pupils from school, putting other youngsters at risk.

But officials have admitted legal orders giving them the power to fine motorists have not been made for yellow zig zag ‘Keep Clear’ lines at more than 90 per cent of school sites in the city.

Sheffield Council parking services manager Kevan Butt told a meeting of the cabinet highways committee that markings at just 14 of Sheffield’s 180 schools have orders making them enforceable.

Head of highways John Bann said: “The lines were painted outside schools as a deterrent.

“Under the previous Lib Dem administration we decided to introduce orders to back them up at six schools, and more orders have been added since, but it is quite expensive due to signage and advertising for each order.”

Coun Leigh Bramall, Labour cabinet member for transport and chairman of the highways committee, admitted he was ‘shocked’ at the lack of school parking restrictions can be enforced.

He added: “It is a priority. We are looking to address how we can make them enforceable.”

Coun Bramall said the authority was considering making a blanket order for all zig zag markings around the city to reduce advertising costs which are otherwise £3,000 per order if made individually.

He added that some ‘Keep Clear’ markings outside schools would have to be redrawn to comply with standards before they can be enforced.

Coun Ian Auckland, Lib Dem shadow cabinet member for transport, added: “Lib Dems started a programme of rolling out orders to ensure that action could be taken against those who were causing road safety issues around schools.

“I would urge Labour to carry on this work, the investment should be available given the extra money they plan to make through issuing more parking fines.”

Helena Button, headteacher at Norton Free CE Primary, said she was aware many lines were not enforceable: “Every couple of years poor parking does become an issue here and at that point we invite a Police Community Support Officer to talk directly to parents,” she said.

“We know we can’t get formal action taken so we try to work with parents on this. Cars may only be badly parked for just a moment but it can still be dangerous for children.”

The committee approved plans to introduce mobile cameras to monitor bus lanes and parking restrictions despite concerns by taxi drivers.

Sheffield Taxi Trade Association chairman Hafeas Rehman, who represents black cab drivers, said there was insufficient space at city centre taxi ranks which forces drivers to park on yellow lines to pick up passengers.

He said drivers have sometimes been ticketed when they have stopped to help disabled people out of their vehicle and into buildings.

Councillors said they would look at providing more taxi ranks and would restrict enforcement of parking restrictions to a small number of routes which would be clearly signed.

Sheffield Council says the cost of buying the mobile cameras, some of which would be mounted in cars, will be £154,000 - but that they could raise up to £264,000 a year in fines.

Implementation of the cameras has been delayed for several weeks after opposition Lib Dem councillors called the decision in for review at a council scrutiny committee meeting.