The number of drivers being fined for parking illegally outside Sheffield’s schools is rising, with 1,750 tickets issued last year.
That’s a rise of more than 15 per cent since 2013, when inconsiderate motorists were ordered to cough up 1,517 times for potentially endangering children’s lives, and a small increase from the 1,723 fines issued in 2017.
In 2018, the vast majority of PCNs (penalty charge notices) for parking outside schools were issued to drivers caught on yellow lines with loading bays, which resulted in 1,298 fines.
A total of 435 tickets were doled out to those stopped on single or double yellow lines, and 17 went to motorists on ‘keep clear’ road markings.
The number of drivers caught in ‘keep clear’ zones could be set to rise, after Sheffield Council recently began using a car equipped with CCTV and ANPR (automatic number plate reading) technology to enforce outside schools.
During 2018, a whopping 521 fines were issued to drivers flouting restrictions outside Sharrow Children’s Centre and Lowfield Primary School on London Road.
The next most fines were issued outside St Patrick’s Catholic Voluntary Academy on Barnsley Road, in Sheffield Lane Top, where 174 drivers were caught.
There were more than 50 tickets handed to drivers outside a number of other schools and children’s centres across the city, including Darnall Children's Centre, with 118; Woodseats Primary School, with 94; Grace Owen Nursery School, in Park Hill, with 79; and King Edward VII School, in Crosspool, with 71.
Chris Holder, headteacher at Lowfield Primary School, said: “It is a problem, and my senior staff and I make a habit of walking outside in the morning and reminding parents they're putting children's lives at risk with their parking. We also regularly send texts and tweets, and use our newsletter to urge people to park responsibly.
“Everyone thinks it won’t be a problem because they’re only stopping for two or three minutes while they drop their children off, but you sometimes get quite a few cars parked across the pavement or on grass verges.
“It’s dangerous for children, who aren’t always as aware of traffic as they should be, and it’s also obstructing other pedestrians and cyclists.”
Mr Holder added that it was only a small number of parents who were responsible, and said the problem seemed to be ‘easing off’ since enforcement was stepped up.
Kathryn Fox, business manager at St Patrick’s, was surprised to learn so many tickets had been issued, since she hadn’t seen of heard of many drivers being fined.
But she said it was ‘pleasing to know’ action was being taken and that the problem appeared to have ‘died down a little’ recently, partly thanks to more parking spaces being created on Barnsley Road.
“We keep reminding parents to park responsibly and be respectful of our neighbours and of children’s safety but it’s an ongoing issue,” she added.
Sheffield Council last year announced plans to create the city’s first ‘red route’ – where double red lines replace yellow ones – on Baslow Road near Totley Primary School, to keep children safe.
Ben Brailsford, the council’s parking services manager, told how the council had been working with schools for the last couple of years to review parking restrictions and how they are enforced.
He said that included ensuring the correct signs and paperwork were in place to ensure drivers caught parking on ‘keep clear’ markings outside schools could be fined.
Since that had been completed towards the end of last year, he explained, the council had begun using a car fitted with CCTV and ANPR technology to catch and fine motorists outside schools, as well as sending out traffic wardens.
“We’ve put a plan in place to ensure every school in the city is receiving enforcement on a regular planned basis, but allowing us enough capacity to visit schools with greater problems more regularly.
“Quite often that’s in conjunction with police. In the last 12 months we’ve done 52 joint operations with police specifically outside schools. We’re spending much more time concentrating on issues around schools.
“We've got more legislative powers and new technology enabling us to catch people stopping on keep clear markings, and every day we have a team out enforcing at different schools across the city.”
Mr Brailsford ascribed the problem partly to changes in society, which meant more parents were dropping their children off by car before continuing to work, putting parking at a premium.
“The parking restrictions are there to protect children. Parents need to think about their children’s safety and that of other pupils, and park responsibly, but enforcement is the last method of getting the message across.
“When we talk to schools with the biggest problems, they all tell us that before they came to us for help they had done everything they could to encourage parents to park more responsibly and explain the risks to them, including having pupils outside holding banners.”