PARENTS in a Scottish town have been banned from roads surrounding schools after complaints about “crazy” parking and dangerous driving on the school run.
East Lothian Council is thought to be the first in Britain to introduce the street closure programme near primary schools in Haddington, which bans all cars except those belonging to residents or the disabled.
The move is blamed on some parents who stand accused of inconsiderate parking as they attempt to drop off their children as close as possible to the school gates.
The newly pedestrianised zones will operate from 8:30am to 9:30am and 3pm to 4pm when they come into effect next April.
The experimental traffic regulations will run for over a year- between April 2013 and June 2014,
The council’s senior area officer, Peter Forsyth, said: “The behaviour of these drivers, who make dangerous turning and reversing manoeuvres and contribute to congestion, cause difficulties for the majority of pupils and parents who walk or cycle to and from school.
“It is totally inappropriate to try and carry out these sorts of manoeuvres close to schools where there is a great number of schoolchildren present.
“Following representations from the parent councils of the three schools, it was agreed to introduce the experimental traffic regulation order. East Lothian Council may be the first council in the whole of the UK to take this approach.”
He said support from Lothian and Borders Police to enforce the ban would be sought.
Local councillor Stuart Currie told a meeting on the issue last week: “It is this crazy attitude of trying to get five feet closer to the school by parents who are putting their own children at risk.”
Parents’ groups praised the council’s “brave” decision, saying it was a serious issue, though the AA warned the ban could just move the problem elsewhere.
Roads near King’s Meadow Primary School, Haddington Infant School and St Mary’s RC Primary school will be turned into pedestrianised zones during school run times, except for residents, blue badge and permit holders.
Eleanor Coner, of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said: “I think it’s a very brave decision by the local authority. It sends out a very strong message.
“It’s certainly a big issue wherever I go in Scotland, there are always complaints about parking and traffic in schools. It’s not getting any better, there are more cars on the roads.”
But Edmund King, president of motoring organisation the AA, said: “It’s easy to vilify the school run but you need to look at the deeper issues.
“Sometimes parents need their cars to go on to work after dropping their children off.”
Mr King said local authorities should look at other solutions beyond banning traffic from certain areas. He said: “In our experience, the best solutions to road safety issues comes from the kids themselves, when they develop their own travel plans.
“I think sometimes when the local authority takes action this backfires and transfers the problem onto adjacent streets. You’ve still got the same number of cars but the problem has moved.”
“It’s not getting to the bottom of the problem, if you get kids to do a travel plan then they can consider other options.”
He added that “walking buses”, where adults accompany groups of children in walking to school, could be an option to consider.
Earlier this year, Dundee council carried out a special survey after a child was knocked down outside St Andrew’s Primary School in the city. Another pupil at the school was reportedly knocked down before the Christmas holidays.