Parking shake-up causes grief to teachers and students at Hampstead schools

Sarah John, opeations director at Hampstead School of Art, says the parking restrictions are driving

Sarah John, opeations director at Hampstead School of Art, says the parking restrictions are driving away students. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Two schools in Hampstead are up in arms over a parking shake-up they fear is driving away students and may risk damaging pupils’ education.

Staff at The Hampstead School of Art and St Margaret’s School say new pay-and-display rules are causing major headaches for teachers and students alike.

Camden Council has brought in changes that mean motorists are forced to move their cars midway through the day – potentially in the middle of classes – or face being fined.

Teachers at St Margaret’s, an independent girls’ school in Kidderpore Gardens, say they are having to worry about their cars when they should be fully-focused on educating pupils.

Judith Steinberg, a long-standing French teacher at St Margaret’s, said: “We are expected to run around moving our cars when we are supposed to be teaching children. It makes me wonder why it is that teachers in particular are not valued when a borough makes a decision like this, which really affects their lives.”

The art college, in Kidderpore Avenue, says the changes have already caused one fed-up student to drop out of a course.

Both schools are in a controlled parking zone (CPZ) with a two-hour restriction from 12.30pm to 2.30pm, but the council has started limiting pay-and-display permits to no more than 90 minutes – less than the controlled hours.

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It means staff, teachers and the art school’s adult pupils must rush out to move their cars by 2pm. The council insists the previous arrangement was an “anomaly” that encouraged commuters to leave their vehicles all day.

But Sarah John, operations director at the Hampstead School of Art, which has pupils from the ages of six to 90, said: “It’s just really complicated and really upsetting our students, while many of our teachers have to drive because they bring in materials.

“We are going to lose students because of this – we have already had one who has not enrolled this term because of it.

“We have a lot of elderly students and it’s very bothersome.”

Both schools have appealed to the council to reverse its decision.

Ms Steinberg added that the council conducted its consultation exercise during the school holidays in August, so staff had no idea what was coming.

A spokesman for Camden Council said: “Camden has a policy to discourage commuter parking.

“This was an anomaly because the maximum stay is less than the controlled hours in the rest of the borough, so we consulted with local residents and made the appropriate changes.

“If requested, our sustainable travel team will make contact with the schools to see how we can assist them.”