School run row rages as council has rethink
BATTLE lines are being drawn between residents and parents over the planned withdrawal of school run parking permits. On Thursday Camden Council finalised details of a public consultation that will start next month on the current parking dispe
BATTLE lines are being drawn between residents and parents over the planned withdrawal of school run parking permits.
On Thursday Camden Council finalised details of a public consultation that will start next month on the current parking dispensation scheme - and whether it should be phased out.
Parents who drive their children to school are currently given tickets that allow them to park in residents' bays and single yellow lines outside the gates for 15 minutes before and after school.
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Vicky Fobel from the Schools Travel Action Group (Stag), is keen to keep the permits.
She said: "Stag suggests a travel levy to enable immediate progress on school buses and shuttle buses to permanently reduce school run traffic.
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"Reducing school parking permits alone isn't working - independent research shows 89 per cent of parents who have lost their parking permit still drive because efficient alternatives are not in place.
"Camden's data shows only a 15 per cent decrease in car journeys while permits have gone down by 60 per cent.
"We support a safe level of permits, rationing every parent's school journeys to encourage all parents to use alternatives as much as possible while funding alternatives and recognising the special needs of nursery children."
Traffic problems caused by school run cars are particularly acute in Hampstead and Belsize Park where there are places for about 8,000 pupils.
Nearly 3,500 permits are issued to parents whose children go to school in NW3 and the council estimates that 50 per cent of morning peak time traffic in the area is caused by the school run.
The permits were introduced in 2003 and their number has been reduced by 20 per cent every year since. They were due to be phased out by next September.
The council is to consult on various options - the original phasing out, a faster withdrawal of permits, fewer permits or replacing them with a new system of scratch cards.
Farokh Khorooshi, from the Fitzjohn's Avenue Residents Association, said: "The debate seems rather peculiar because we think the original policy - which was agreed by cross-party consensus - was a good one.
"No other borough allows this to happen on their roads. No doubt there will be some screaming and shouting but the councillors should stick to it."
Both the Belsize Residents Association (Bra) and the Heath and Hampstead Society are canvassing the views of their members on the issue.
Gordon Maclean, chairman of the town sub-committee of the Heath and Hampstead Society, said: "The orderly calm that transforms our roads in the school holidays is proof of where responsibility lies.
"We do hope that the issue of enforcement, which is effectively suspended during school run times, will be addressed."