Six good reasons to curb school parking permits

The recent driving-to-school debate has been cast as one between residents on one side and private school parents on the other. But the majority of children in Camden attend state schools, and the voice of state schools needs to be heard, too. Many Camden

The recent driving-to-school debate has been cast as one between residents on one side and private school parents on the other. But the majority of children in Camden attend state schools, and the voice of state schools needs to be heard, too.

Many Camden households do not actually own a car, and it is a safe guess that most of them attend state schools. Moreover (leaving individual cases aside) it is my personal impression that the incidence of parents with a social conscience is higher in state schools.

Those two factors, if true, may explain why the Camden state school community has not followed its private-school counterpart in rising to the defence of parental motorists.

As a state-school governor, I believe that parking permits for parents should be withdrawn on the following grounds:


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1. Traffic, encouraged by parking permits, has a detrimental effect on the many children who already walk to school, by causing pollution and endangering children's lives through traffic accidents.

2. Parental motorists deprive their own children of a good opportunity to walk, which has been shown to contribute to children's health and well-being.

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3. Traffic discourages cycling to school, by creating additional dangers.

4. Children who are driven to school are less likely to learn valuable skills, e.g. how to cross roads and how to use public transport.

5. Educationally, children learn about sustainability only to watch their own school subsidise an unsustainable means of transport through the issue of parking permits to parents. What hypocrisy!

6. Walking to school facilitates a sense of community, as children feel part of the environment that lies between home and school.

My school has decided not to issue parking permits, in spite of having a Green Travel Plan and being therefore eligible. I am convinced that by so doing we have been acting in our pupils' best interest.

Children in Camden are victims of traffic. Motoring should not be encouraged.

Luca Salice

Chair of governors

Torriano Junior School, NW5

I myself walk my children to school and yet still support STAG's position on this matter. Far from being selfish, parents simply want (and need) safe, realistic means of getting their children to school.

I understand that STAG and the TWG proposals include not only keeping a realistic level of parking permits, but also a higher charge for such permits, the revenues from which would be ring-fenced to fund green travel alternatives such as school buses, walking school buses, and shuttle buses.

School run parking permits have already been drastically reduced (they are now at 40 per cent of the original level three or four years ago) and, from my observation, there has been no visible improvement in congestion during school run times.

Indeed, the walk to school is getting scarier as parents are being forced to park illegally and/or circle to schools if they have lost their permits.

Contrary to your ''few schools'' statement in your editorial (Doing nothing is not an option, H&H Comment, March 29) schools have indeed been pro-actively informing parents of the permits policy for many years.

The problem is that parents don't have many schools outside Hampstead to choose from. The few good schools that do exist outside the Fitzjohn's area are heavily over-subscribed so parents can't get their children into them.

Scratch card permits would enable parents like myself to drive safely and park legally on the one school journey out of 10 or 20 on which the car is truly needed.

Many parents do not drive 4x4s. Many parents walk and take public transport as much as possible (like ourselves) but it simply must be recognised that this is not possible for all parents all the time, especially for the youngest, those that live furthest away, or those that have work and other commitments apart from ferrying their children to and from school.

Traffic gets better in school holidays partly because commuters are away on holiday as well.

I would like to thank Camden Council, and the councillors on the Exec (Environment) Committee and Scrutiny committee in particular, for opening up this issue to debate.

I hope we can all come to a reasonable outcome for all road (and pavement!) users.

Catherine Boyd

Swiss Cottage NW3

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