PUPILS at three primary schools in Tameside will become Junior PCSOs during a road safety week of action to tackle inconsiderate parking.
Parents parking across entrances, on footways, on ‘keep clear’ markings and obstructing crossing points is an increasing problem nationwide.
A survey of headteachers, conducted by Tameside Council, has established local concerns. In response, the council has co-ordinated the week of action, between January 21 to 28, in partnership with Greater Manchester Police and local schools.
A range of initiatives have been created to raise awareness and change behaviour. These include a pilot study of a Junior PCSO scheme where 12 pupils at three schools – Dowson Primary School, Hyde; St Anne’s Primary School, Audenshaw; and St Peter’s Primary School, Ashton – will don hi-vis vests and hand out information leaflets to warn motorists about the dangers of inconsiderate parking.
They will be supported by Tameside Council parking enforcement officers, Greater Manchester Police officers and school staff.
Russell Scott Primary School, Denton, initiated and funded Junior PCSOs last April and has since seen a significant decrease in parking problems.
They have helped create the pilot scheme, which is expected to be just as successful and, once evidenced, the model will be rolled out to other schools across the borough.
The aim is to make drivers think and act responsibly with enforcement only being used as a last resort.
Inconsiderate parking not only endangers pupils and pedestrians by reducing visibility but parking with engines running also increases pollution.
The council will also conduct air quality monitoring outside schools and environmental officers will give school talks on the issues. An Arts Award logbook has also been produced to educate Key Stage 1 pupils on road safety.
All of those responding to the survey of local headteachers had experienced issues with parking and road safety outside their school, with 60 per cent experiencing problems every day.
One headteacher even commented that a parent had driven at them while a PCSO was standing at the school gate.
Most of the headteachers had sent letters to parents, distributed newsletters and introduced a staff presence on the streets at peak times but problems persist.
One headteacher said: “Road safety is a serious concern for staff and pupils at the school. A proportion of parents who disregard the school’s letters and phone calls present a serious risk to the safety of children, staff and parents alike.”
Another said: “I live in fear each day of a child potentially being seriously injured or killed as the road outside school is a dead end and some parents have a total disregard for this. We are desperately in need of help before something serious happens.”
Cllr Brenda Warrington, Tameside Council’s executive leader, said: “We welcomed the initiative undertaken by Russell Scott that we know proved successful in that area.
“We’ve organised this road safety week of action to support schools in tackling the issue and I urge motorists to think about where they park and act responsibly.
“This is a problem that we cannot allow to continue and we’re urging motorists to co-operate without us having to seek enforcement action.”