Camera car to target parents' bad parking
It is an age-old problem outside most schools – parents parking to drop off and pick up children clogging up streets, blocking driveways, breaking traffic laws and putting lives in danger.
But council bosses in Wolverhampton believe they have hit upon the solution with a car equipped with CCTV cameras and number plate recognition.
The modified Ford Fiesta is being sent all over the city to record cases of bad parking, with fines sent out to those who park on double yellow lines and zig zags outside schools.
Kitted out with GPS tracking and recording equipment, it will be driven around the city's streets catching inconsiderate parkers.
Council chiefs are aiming to target schools where parents' bad parking has been posing a danger to children.
The car was welcomed today by the headteacher of Woodfield Infants School, in Woodfield Avenue, Penn, which is the scene of daily chaos as drivers flout the rules to get close to the gates.
The car has been in use for the past week but so far no fines have been sent out because the footage has not yet been reviewed.
Other areas highlighted as problem spots include Villiers Primary School in Bilston. The road outside Wolverhampton Grammar School in Compton Road also saw cars parked on the path and on a single yellow line.
The council will not tell people when and where the car is going to be but it will be sent to different schools if reports are made of particular problems.
The car will also pick up cases of drivers parking in bus stops or on double yellow lines on main roads as it is driven about.
Woodfield headteacher Shelpa Patel said: "I think it's fantastic. We've frequently asked for traffic wardens to come down and when they do it makes a difference.
"But as soon as they go the problem starts again. What we need is a deterrent and the fact that this car will circle the school will help provide that. This is about the safety of the children."
Christine Freeman, aged 56, who has been the lollipop lady at Woodfield for two and a half years, said: "The biggest problem is people parking on the zig zags.
"It's night after night. It means I can't see the traffic properly and drivers can't see the children. I've had to pull a little boy back because he was about to be run over.
"There are other problems as well with drivers passing by. I've even seen one man using an iPad perched on his knees while going past the school."
The car is expected to bring in around £42,000 a year in fines but Wolverhampton City Council has stressed that making money is not the aim. Councillor Peter Bilson, deputy leader, said: "It is a response to calls for better safety across the city. Schools in particular have a great deal of congestion.
"The idea is to get people to be more considerate by sending out penalty charge notices to those that break the rules."
Three of the city's parking wardens will take it in turns to drive the car around.
The car will record the journey and use GPS tracking systems to identify where double yellow lines, zig zags and other restrictions are. The camera records number plates and the information is downloaded to a computer in the Civic Centre where footage is reviewed and an officer decides whether to issue a fine. Fines are £70 or £35 if paid within three weeks.
Some schools have come up with their own ways to deal with the issue.
Brian Griffiths, director of marketing for North East Wolverhampton Academy said: "We have a fleet of buses and we find that parents are more likely to use those if they know that their children can get picked up and dropped off close to home."
John Allin, head of the King's School in Tettenhall, said: "We always work closely with parents and outside agencies to make sure there aren't any problems."
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