Driving out the parking message

Joe Bower, 9, with Mayor Norma Redfearn collecting his prize as the winner in the Smarter Parker poster competition.
Joe Bower, 9, with Mayor Norma Redfearn collecting his prize as the winner in the Smarter Parker poster competition.
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Young artists are helping drive up awareness of a road safety campaign.

Students have joined the Smarter Parker campaign, an initiative by Mayor Norma Redfearn, to help encourage motorists to park safely near borough schools.

They have created new poster designs that have been used to provide new road signs outside their schools to reinforce the message to motorists about the dangers they are creating by failing to park sensibly outside schools.

A top prize of £200 voucher to buy a bike was won by Joe Bower, nine, of Marden Bridge Middle School.

His picture, designed when he was a pupil at Whitley Lodge First School, emphasised the need for children to be able to walk and cycle near their school.

Mrs Redfearn initiated the campaign after witnessing a near-miss accident, when a child escaped a collision with an oncoming vehicle obscured by an illegally parked car.

Other young artists who were highly commended, and received book tokens, were Thomas Sidebotham, seven, from South Wellfield First School; Eve Ruddle, ten, of Monkhouse Primary School; Elicia Watson, 11, Shiremoor Primary School (Now at George Stephenson High School); Tia Watson, seven, of Appletree Gardens First School, Whitley Bay.

Mrs Redfearn said: “I am very impressed with the lovely posters produced by all the entrants. It is clear that they have put a lot of thought into their designs.

“The designs have been turned into new road signs which we hope will help us to persuade bad drivers – often parents and carers – to think before they park illegally or in a way that obscures our children as they walk and cycle to school, putting their lives at risk.”

Motorists who fail to park smarter at the school gates are putting themselves at risk of a fine of £70.

The second stage of the campaign has been to instruct the team who operate the borough’s camera car, fitted with Automatic Number Plate recognition technology, to detect offences outside schools.