IRRESPONSIBLE motorists were caught in the act as The Star’s campaign to improve child safety took to the streets outside a Sheffield school.
The It’s Your Child campaign visited Athelstan Community Primary School on Richmond Park Way, Handsworth, to tackle parents putting children at risk by parking illegally.
Every day, the scenes outside the nursery and primary school resemble a rush hour gridlock as newly-painted double yellow lines are ignored.
A bus is often blocked from leaving a junction due to the queue of vehicles and children are forced to cross the road between parked cars.
Things are so bad that the local bus company has threatened to axe the school stop from its route.
With a large number of pupils using the bus to travel from Darnall every day, the loss of the drop-off point would pose a huge problem.
During the morning run, The Star observed at least 25 cars parking on double yellow lines, in bus stop markings and on grass verges and pavements.
When challenged, one male motorist, who refused to be named, said: “I find it hard to find a spot. I live quite a way away. I am literally only here for seconds to drop my daughter off. She’s nine, I don’t want her walking on her own.”
Janine McGeough, 40, of Handsworth left her car on double yellow lines, blocking part of a junction to walk her nine-year-old daughter to the entrance.
She said: “I drive because I work a bit away. I have to be in Rotherham for 9am. I do try and park further away most of the time.
“I understand why parents are concerned, it is a big problem, but I couldn’t get out. I suppose it’s my fault, I didn’t want my daughter to have to go in late on her own so I went with her, rather than letting her deal with it herself.
“I think a lot of parents are over-protective and want to get as near to the school as possible.”
Julie Mellor, 48, of Handsworth said she had been blocked in by other cars when attempting to drop off nine-year-old son Adam.
She said: “Every day apart from a Thursday I walk my little boy to school. I usually park further away and walk him here. In fact, I work at the school and I’ve complained about the problem thousands of times.”
Headteacher Deb Halliday said: “I know every school battles with it. We’ve tried everything - we’ve had the pupils out wearing high-visibility clothes and talking to parents, putting it in our newsletters, opening up part of a visitors’ car park - nothing works.
“When we have traffic wardens out they tend to behave for a day but the next it’s back to normal. There is plenty of parking in roads which are just a five-minute walk away.
“The bus is sometimes there for 15 or 20 minutes and can’t move. They have threatened to take it away as it’s an ordinary service, not a school one, but a lot of our pupils rely on it.
“We have parents almost coming to blows over parking and traffic, swearing in front of children. It’s just not what we want for our community.
“I hope the It’s Your Child campaign encourages parents to take more responsibility.”
n THE Star is backing the campaign to make the roads outside schools safer.
We will visit primaries and juniors during the school run and challenge parents whose parking is putting children in danger.
Our photographers and reporters will be out and about highlighting the extent of the problem. And we will not just be visiting the schools due to benefit from the new project. Tell us which schools are badly affected by parents parking badly and dangerously and we will do our best to investigate.
n Email email@example.com or ring 0114 2767676 ext 3354.