‘Dangerous and negligent’ parking around Worthing school is putting pupils at risk, mum says

A parent has raised concerns about ‘the dangerous and negligent parking’ she said occurs daily outside her son’s school in Worthing.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 11:47 am

Ruth Hilliard, of Glebeside Close, said it was putting children – including her seven-year-old son – and their parents at risk as they try to get home from Thomas A Becket Junior school in the afternoon.

The 39-year-old, who works at BHASVIC in Hove, said she had contacted both the council and the police over the issue – both of whom told her it was the other’s responsibility.

She said: “It is a disgrace that no-one seems to want to take responsibility for keeping our local young children safe from harm.”

Michelle Maye's (Schools travel plan coordinator), Ruth Hilliard and her son, and John Gadd (Headteacher) outside the school

She said she witnessed cars parking opposite or within ten metres of a junction, over a dropped kerb, near the school entrance – all of which are illegal according to the Highways Code.

Ms Hilliard said parking on the pavement on the corner of Glebeside Close and Avenue blocked children’s access to be able to cross safely and often results in a large backlog and buildup of traffic.

This prevents access for emergency vehicles to local houses and the school, and means children and parents are forced to walk in the road while cars are trying to get by, she said.

“These cars usually have very limited visibility because of the other parked cars and it is a horribly dangerous situation,” she said.

Ms Hilliard said the school was doing all it could to make parents aware of the issue, but was being ignored.

Going forward, she said: “There needs to be greater reinforcement, visible presence and penalty notices issued to these offending vehicle owners to try to stop the problem.”

She suggested that double yellow lines on some of the roads could help the situation, too.

Head teacher John Gadd shared her concerns and said: “My team is doing absolutely everything it can to protect our children and we will continue to do so.

“We have been fighting for a long time to keep our students safe on the local roads and we will not let this matter rest.”

More than 600 parents signed a petition launched by the school calling for significant improvements in road safety measures on both Wiston Avenue and St Lawrence Avenue.

Mr Gadd said he hoped the county council would take forward the highways improvements scheme the school had requested, adding: “Ultimately, if they do not then I’m terrified that unless something is done one of my pupils will be the next victim of a traffic incident in the area around my school.”

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said it had implemented most of the measures the school had requested and said: “We are hopeful the remaining will happen in the next financial year, however this is dependent on funding being available.”

Civil Enforcement Officers can and do ticket vehicles, the spokesman said, however this is only where there are parking restrictions.

“If the school or members of the public would like to request any changes to the highway including new parking restrictions we would recommend they contact their county councillor in the first instance,” said the spokesman.

“If the public ever think there are significant urgent safety issues we would always recommend them to dial 999 immediately.”

A police spokesman said parking issues were a matter for the school and the local authority, following deregulation of parking in Worthing.

“However, we are mindful of the hazards posed by drivers parking thoughtlessly around schools while dropping off or collecting children, when it would be much safer to do just a short walk away,” the spokesman said.

“A local PCSO has been in touch with the school to try to assist with the problem, but any reports should be made to the school or the local authority.

“Persistent anti-social or dangerous parking offenders can be reported to the Operation Crackdown website - www.operationcrackdown.org.

“Ultimately, the solution lies with parents or guardians who insist on driving their children right to the school gates, putting others at risk.”