London Evening Standard)
1 day ago
A clampdown on idling cars at the school gates saw tempers flare when parents driving their young children to class were confronted by wardens and councillors.
Air pollution officers, councillors and parent volunteers are handing out advisory notices and fines outside schools in Waltham Forest.
The Standard saw a patrol in action at Chapel End primary school in Walthamstow as angry parents clashed with enforcement officers after being caught out.
Drivers who flout the no-idling rules can be fined £20 by the council.
One father argued he was not parking on the yellow zig-zag lines outside the school so had not committed an offence when he stopped in the road for his child to get out.
He started filming enforcement officers, claiming they had no permission to take a picture of his car — despite being told of the harm and road safety risk the vehicles were creating for pupils.
He said: “The rule is not to park on the yellow lines so why are you taking my picture? Who gave you permission to take a picture of my car?”
The team confronted 12 parents in one morning, handing out advisory leaflets and getting them to pledge to not idle.
Clyde Loakes, council environment chief, said: “You hope there is an emotional resonance when we say the toxins are poisoning your children as they are sitting next to you in your car.
“Occasionally, you just get people who shout expletives … The sheer laziness and then indignation of some parents is startling.”
The school is metres from Crooked Billet roundabout which in 2016 was reported as having nitrous oxide levels that were twice the EU legal limit.
The council is required by Transport for London to discourage parents from making the “school run” drop-off by car.
One mother, walking her child to school, claimed the operation that sees officers hand out anti-idling leaflets to offending drivers was a waste of time.
She added: “They are doing all this but the school is right next to the North Circular with some of the worst air pollution in London.
“I don’t see how it’s going to make a difference. It’s a drop in the ocean really.”
But Mr Loakes said: “You have to start somewhere. If we have these conversations as they are dropping off their children, maybe they will start changing their behaviours when they go shopping … then we can start to fix the real air quality issues we have in Waltham Forest and in London.
“Lots of parents have asked us to carry out these operations because they are worried about the wellbeing of their children … Occasionally, people need a nudge to help them realise the right thing to do is for everyone not just themselves.”
Tanya Daniels, who lives in the area, said she had seen a big rise in parents walking children to school and using its car park, adding: “I think patrols have made a huge difference. I know parents are busy but you have to take that extra time to do things safely.”
Waltham Forest has been praised by Mayor Sadiq Khan for promoting cycling and walking, and for discouraging rat-running.