Parents urged to back new parking initiative

Mayor Norma Redfearn with Cullercoats Primary School headteacher Gavin Storey and children supporting the 'Be a smarter parker' campaign.
Mayor Norma Redfearn with Cullercoats Primary School headteacher Gavin Storey and children supporting the 'Be a smarter parker' campaign.
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Pupils have saddled up for a new campaign encouraging motorists to be ‘smarter’ around schools.

Youngsters from Cullercoats Primary School helped Mayor Norma Redfearn launch a new campaign for ‘smarter parking’ to protect children at the school gates as they walk or cycle to school.

Parents making the school run can be spotted flouting the law and parking in no parking areas around schools.

Now Mrs Redfearn is hoping to raise awareness among offenders they not only are they risking penalties, but also putting the lives of children at risk.

North Tyneside Council is allowing parents to park for free in authority owned car parks between 8am and 9am, then 3pm and 4pm to drop off or collect children.

But from September, the council will be stepping up enforcement measures with more use of the camera car, fitted with Automatic Number Plate recognition technology.

indiscriminate parking on areas where no parking is allowed around our schools is increasing the danger for our children by creating extra hazards

Mayor Norma Redfearn

Letters are now being sent out to parents appealing for their support.

Mrs Redfearn said: “As a parent, and a former teacher and headteacher, I know myself how the early morning school run can be one of the most demanding times of the day.

“However, indiscriminate parking on areas where no parking is allowed around our schools is increasing the danger for our children by creating extra hazards for our youngsters to negotiate.”

Businesses and community facilities who could provide car parks during the school run are also being sought.

Schools will be supported to ‘refresh’ their school travel plans to encourage more sustainable transport, which could see more ‘walking buses’ created to help pupils walk the final leg of their journey to school.

The council has implemented 20mph zones around each of the borough’s schools to reduce speeds of cars.

And it has a network of crossing patrols, which it is seeking to expand further by seeking to fill 30 vacancies over the coming months during the period of the campaign.

Children are being invited to play their part, with a competition asking them to design a new poster to promote smarter parking around their school. There will be a prize for the winning entry, which will also be used in future publicity to tackle the problem.

Mrs Redfearn added: “We have a real issue with parking across the borough, due to the increase in car ownership by households and the fact the majority of our streets aren’t designed for modern demands. That causes problems for so many communities.

“In launching my Park Smarter campaign, which is appealing to all members of the public to help us keep our children safe, particularly at the school gates, by investing just a few minutes more when deciding where to park.

Cullercoats Primary School has turned around its previously problems with indiscriminate parking over recent years and with safer streets is now encouraging children to walk, cycle and even scooter to school.

Headteacher Gavin Storey said: “Encouraging pupils to walk, cycle and scooter to school is beneficial both to the environment and to the health and well being of our pupils.

“We have had to install more cycle and scooter racks within the school ground to accommodate the increasing number of pupils who are using an alternative to the car to get themselves to school.

“However, this is only possible if the environment around the school is safe for the children.

“The Park Smarter Campaign and great schemes such as ‘Bikeability’ which our Year 5 children pupils are currently participating in, will enable more pupils to get on their bikes or scooters and encourage more parents to leave the car at home.”