Cameras to catch parents parking illegally outside schools

Keep Clear zig zags.
Keep Clear zig zags.

Persistent parking pests who block school entrances could soon be caught on camera after councillors agreed to crack down on the problem with a specially-equipped car.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s transport and highways committee unanimously approved a recommendation to patrol schools to enforce ‘keep clear’ zig-zag markings.

A year seven pupil was recently knocked down outside Brunts Academy, suffering minor injuries, and parents took to social media to vent their fury at the parking problems around many of the region’s schools.

Mansfield district and county councillor, Steve Garner, who also sits on the transport committee agreed that enforcement was needed.

He said: “It’s so frustrating, most of my time is taken up by people taking issues with parking around schools so I welcome this.

“The problem is that, if you let them, some parents would drive into the school and drop their kids off at the desk. It’s a constant problem.

“What makes it worse is that you can go to any school these days, some live too far away and can’t walk, and of course there’s not enough spaces outside schools.

“I don’t want to se anyone get a ticket, they just need to be more sensible and considerate.”

The county council says it has invested in a programme of road safety improvements around schools, with 20mph speed zones introduced and ‘keep clear’ markings made enforceable.

However, traditional enforcement using civil enforcement officers on foot can be inefficient and ineffective because schools are often in residential areas and may present a parking problem for as little as 15 minutes, twice a day.

For this reason , the council says it is difficult to effectively cover all sites and there have also been occasions when the sudden presence of an officer has led to inappropriate driving manoeuvres for drivers eager to escape the possibility of receiving a penalty charge notice.

Where traditional CEO enforcement is difficult, the Traffic Management Act 2004 allows for camera enforcement and during November last year a number of trials were carried out using a car-equipped with a CCTV camera.

No actual fines were issued during the trial but results indicate that there were a significant number of occasions when they would have been issued.

The council says the primary purpose of using a car-based enforcement system is not to raise revenue but to address the problem of dangerous and inconsiderate parking near schools.

The car will be equipped with an intelligent enforcement system that uses GPRS to recognise where restrictions begin and end as the vehicle is driven though a restriction zone.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras (ANPR) will record vehicles from all sides and create a segment of video which can be viewed to determine if fines will be issued, via post, to the vehicles concerned and subsequently to determine any appeal against the charge.

The car is likely to start operating next January and it is planned to use the vehicle across the county on a rolling programme that ensures repeat visits, co-ordinating with the work of the council’s road safety officers to help reinforce educational messages about safe travel to school.