THURROCK councillor for public safety, Cllr Phil Smith, has issued an appeal for schools to come forward and join the council in an innovative scheme to combat the scourge of dangerous parking near schools.
Speaking on Tuesday (3 March), Cllr Smith says he will be presenting a paper at next Wednesday’s cabinet meeting seeking authority to carry out a pilot scheme which, be believes will be a first in the country.
He said: “Across the country and not just here in Thurrock, schools complain and parents moan about the inconsiderate and potentially dangerous parking of some people dropping off their children.
“In Thurrock we have over 50 schools but only seven civil enforcement staff to patrol them – the numbers simply don’t add up especially since we had to stop using our CCTV car, PIPPA, following advice from Eric Pickles.”
Cllr Smith said: “We have thought long and hard about what could be done to make the roads outside schools safer. Even when we do have enforcement staff in the area, not many tickets are issued as parents suddenly seem able to obey the law. The uniform, even sight of the cap, is enough. We need such a deterrent at every school.
“And that led to an idea about doing something totally different.
“It seems that so long as the people enforcing the parking restrictions are properly trained, they do not have to be employed by the council. Once trained by us, so long as they have the proper equipment, any responsible person can carry out this function.
“While the council cannot afford to employ extra officers, we can certainly find funding for a pilot project so volunteers from a small number of local schools – up to four to start with – can undergo full training and then, starting in September, these schools can have a full-time presence on and around their entrances.
“Money from any fixed penalty notices they give out will still go to the council but we could pay expenses to the schools.”
Cllr Smith added: “Our next cabinet meeting will discuss this fully, but I wanted to set the ball rolling and ask schools which have parking issues to come forward, contact us and tell us they are interested. We’ve already put some feelers out, but this seemed too good a chance to miss.”