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Pupils join drive for safe parking

PUBLISHED: 10:08 30 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:30 03 July 2010

Pupils at Woodlands Primary School, Bradwell, take a look at cars parked near the school entrance with PCSO Richard Bladon. From left are 
Phoebe Baker (11), Matthew Davey (11),Tia Suen (10),  and Jovan Smith (11).

Pupils at Woodlands Primary School, Bradwell, take a look at cars parked near the school entrance with PCSO Richard Bladon. From left are Phoebe Baker (11), Matthew Davey (11),Tia Suen (10), and Jovan Smith (11).

It is a familiar story outside nearly every school gate and one that raises the blood pressure of parents everywhere.

The school run becomes almost a game of dodgems, with stressed mums having to weave between cars abandoned - sometimes even double-parked - on yellow lines and zig-zag markings.

It is a familiar story outside nearly every school gate and one that raises the blood pressure of parents everywhere.

The school run becomes almost a game of dodgems, with stressed mums having to weave between cars abandoned - sometimes even double-parked - on yellow lines and zig-zag markings.

Add to the dangerous mix children being hastily dropped off in the road rather than on the pavement and darting out into the path of vehicles.

Starkly underlining the hazards posed by the mayhem, Norfolk Police's casualty reduction officer, Michael Edney, said: “Throughout Europe, Britain has the best road safety record for adults but the worst for children - worse than Albania or Portugal.

“It is not the children's fault. It is ours as adults.”

He was speaking at Woodlands Primary School, Bradwell, near Yarmouth, at the launch of School Watch, a pioneering campaign by the police and Norfolk County Council to improve safety outside schools.

Woodlands is one of three Norfolk schools chosen to pilot the scheme - the first of its kind in the country - which aims to harness the support of parents, pupils and teachers as well as police.

Officers from the Bradwell safer neighbourhood team will be patrolling the school in the morning and afternoon and inviting people to report the car registrations of drivers parking illegally.

A warning letter will be sent to the drivers in response to each complaint and after three separate complaints the culprit will be prosecuted.

At Friday's morning assembly, parents, pupils and staff were treated to a series of sketches comically highlighting the serious issues, with youngsters “driving” cardboard cars that parked on yellow lines and ignored the presence of a lollipop lady.

PC Edney said that as well as avoiding parking in dangerous places, parents needed to question whether the journey was even necessary.

“At Pulham Market, there is one mother who can see the school from her house. But she drives the 100 metres an hour before the end of school to ensure she can get a parking space, and sits and reads her book,” he said.

“All we are asking for is everyone's co-operation to ensure a safer environment outside schools. If the scheme is successful it will be rolled out to all schools in the county.”

Sgt Ash Waterhouse, from Bradwell safer neighbourhood team, said: “Every school has its own particular problems. Here it is very congested and some parents are parking illegally, even double parking and blocking the road.”

Headteacher Mandy Stanton said there had been one or two accident near misses and traffic outside the school had become a real concern.

Liz Hackett, headteacher at Terrington St Clement School, west Norfolk, also piloting School Watch with Robert Kett Junior School, Wymondham, agreed that rush-hour congestion outside the school gate was a real headache. She said: “Because we are opposite the high school, there can be 1,000 pupils milling about and being dropped off.”

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