Selfish parking is putting children’s lives in danger

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More than 30 fines a week are being doled out to drivers who are endangering children by parking irresponsibly outside schools in Sheffield.

And the number of motorists caught stopping on keep clear markings or yellow lines near school gates continues to rise despite increasingly vocal warnings about pupils’ safety.

Since January 2012, nearly 8,100 fines have been issued to culprits across the city, who have shelled out more than £285,000, a Freedom of Information request by The Star has revealed.

The annual toll has increased from 1,331 in 2014 to 1,760 last year, and with 297 fines already issued in the first two months of this year it is on course to continue that upwards trend.

Some of the schools where the most fines have been handed out over the last five years are:

n King Edward VII, in Broomhill

n St Patrick’s Catholic Voluntary Academy, Sheffield Lane Top

n Woodseats Primary

n Sharrow Children’s Centre

n Lowfield Primary

n Broomhill Infants

At St Patrick’s Catholic Voluntary Academy, in Sheffield Lane Top, business manager Kathryn Fox described dangerous parking as a ’nightmare’.

“It’s always been bad but it does seem to have got worse recently. It’s become a nightmare,” she said.

“It’s hard to get through to drivers that their child getting to school on time isn’t the priority, it’s their safety.

“We’re getting it in the neck from parents and residents but the school can’t do anything.”

Mrs Fox added that the school sent frequent warnings in its newsletter and police had run road safety workshops for youngsters and their parents.

She urged parents to report drivers to the police or council if they were seen parking irresponsibly outside the school.

Catherine Timbers, headteacher at Broomhill Infants School, said the school had done everything in its power to warn drivers but they were failing to heed the message.

Pupils have been patrolling outside the school, alongside the building supervisor; parents have been sent a map showing free parking available away from the school entrance; and the school has even raised money to put up a banner, she said.

“I would urge drivers to park responsibly because their actions could cost a child his or her life,” she added.

“I know that sounds dramatic but it’s the truth. Thankfully none of our children have been hit but we’ve had one or two near misses which could have been horrible.”

Ms Timbers added that it was not just parents parking irresponsibly, but also residents and those working nearby as parking spots were at a premium in the area.

Sheffield Council recently teamed up with South Yorkshire Police for a crackdown on dangerous parking outside schools, during which warnings and fines were issued to numerous motorists caught flouting the law.

Parents and pupils at some schools in the city have taken matters into their hands.

In February, police were called to Carfield Primary School in Meersbrook where tempers flared over a demonstration staged by parents.

Later that month, pupils at Athelstan Primary School stood outside monitoring drivers stopping on double yellow lines and posting a daily tally on Twitter in a bid to shame motorists into changing their ways.

Sheffield Council revealed in January how over the last five years 113 primary school aged children had been injured – 32 seriously – in crashes across Sheffield occurring between 8am and 10am or 3pm and 5pm.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, the council’s cabinet member for transport, warned at the time how illegal parking was putting lives at risk.

“We know that parents often have little time to spare when it comes to collecting their children but they simply mustn’t flout rules outside schools – they are in place to keep children safe,” he said.

Inspector Jason Booth, of South Yorkshire Police, said at the time that some parents had been upset by the enforcement action.

But he said others were very much in support, adding: “I do not make any apologies in ensuring the safety of kids.”

Coun Iqbal said: “As our recent awareness campaign outside primary schools shows, the council and Road Safety Partnership work hard to educate parents and carers about safe and responsible driving outside schools.

“In many cases we are able to inform drivers of their responsibilities, without the need for a ticket being issued. But we will issue notices if we have to.

“We have developed a programme to improve the signage, lines and traffic regulation orders around schools to enable better enforcement.

“We are planning on introducing more keep clear signs in the months ahead.

“Most parents park responsibly, and many schools offer solutions to avoid the need to park in dangerous or illegal locations.

“Restrictions are there for a reason – to keep pupils safe.

“One accident is one too many and we will continue our programme of education, visiting schools, and enforcement to make our schools safer.”