Car Parking at JWJS
We have been working very hard over the last few months with our children, parents and local community to try and reduce the parking and congestion that occurs during 'drop up' and 'pick up' at school. To date we have completed the following:
- Encouraged the children through assemblies and homework to know the dangers of parking on our yellow zig-zag lines.
- Held a scarecrow campaign outside our school. The children made scarecrows dressed in our school uniform which sat on the zig-zag lines and in residents drives to reduce the parking and stopping around school.
- Introduced a walking bus from Hayden with Joydens Wood Infant School for two days a week.
- Joint meetings with Miss Hately, Headteacher at Joydens Wood Infant School and Brian Gardner, our local Councillor to try and resolve some of the issues raised by our local community and parents.
- Representative from KCC - Iona Rogulski, Transport Planner was invited to help support us further to reduce the impact of the parking and congestion around school.
A joint meeting was held in January with the following people attending:
- Iona Rogulski - KCC Transport Planner - Chair
- Martin Smith - DBC Parking Services Manager
- Rachel Hately - Headteacher at JWIS
- Sue Hallam – School Business Manager at JWIS
- Jacqueline Watson - Headteacher at JWJS
- Alan & Steve - Kent Police Local PCSOs
- Brian Garden – Local Cllr
- Louise Westpfel – School Governor
- Local residents
The minutes from the meeting are below:
- The purpose of the meeting was to:
- Allow all parties to express their concerns about the problematic parking at the two school sites and share how this impacts them.
- Ensure that everyone can come away with an understanding of the process of requesting significant changes (such as installation of yellow lines or changes to road layout, etc.)
- Gain an understanding of the measures that the school has taken or can take in order to support with easing the issues on the surrounding roads.
- Begin discussions around short term and long-term solutions.
Overview of Issues:
- All parties agree that children’s safety is the key concern. Issues referenced include:
- cars mounting kerbs and pulling away at speed
- pavement parking causing families and children to walk in the roads
- Poorly parked vehicles causing access problems for emergency vehicles
- Additional parent & school concerns mentioned included:
- Poor air quality caused by cars leaving engines running at peak times when parked up.
- Abuse from drivers to residents/parents/school staff when they are asked to park elsewhere
- School staff are receiving abusive correspondence and regular complaints from residents who believe the school are not doing enough to combat the issue
- Physical fights have occurred between parents, children have witnessed this; one incident occurred just outside of a full class of 7-year olds.
- There is no signage to warn drivers that they are approaching a school
- The Walking bus currently approaches from the Infant School side and there is not suitable pathways or crossing points for the children.
- Residents are also frustrated that drivers often park inconsiderately; blocking driveways, using their driveways for turning and there has also been an incident recently where an ambulance had difficulty negotiating the parking in the Park Way estate in order to provide emergency care to a resident.
- Additional points for noting:
- Hayden Gates (where a large car park is available) open at 2.50pm
- Parents feel that it would be unsafe to encourage cycling or scooting to school.
- Tile Kiln Lane is a privately-owned road (owned by the residents) however due to safety critical reasons the Education department within KCC had the road resurfaced. There is now issue with who is responsible for the maintenance of this road. Also, being a private road, this can cause issues with possible requests for KCC installing crossing points/parking restricts/signage etc.
- IR has explained that it is key to approach the issue of problematic parking with a “grass roots approach” – educating children so that they can have these discussions with their parents, and by also reinforcing this with appropriate delivery of these messages to the drivers. There are several ways (outlined below) that the schools can initially do their bit to clearly identify and acknowledge the issues they are facing and to encourage their driving families to not park immediately outside the school gates or in inconsiderate ways on the local road network.
- School Travel Plans: Both schools have submitted the initial draft documents using the Jambusters website - https://jambusterstpms.co.uk/x.jsp?ano=1 – once these drafts have been finalised they will be publicly available to view via the web link above (click “travel plan search” at bottom of the page). This document provides an overview of the school’s site and issues it faces which includes details of surrounding roads, existing infrastructure and parking provision, pupil and staff postcodes, travel data, targets and an action plan.
Whilst having a School Travel Plan is not currently a legal requirement, it is good practice to have a recent school travel plan document that can then be annually monitored via the “Annual Review” function on the Jambusters website. Having a current STP can also be very useful if/when a school or local community approaches KCC with requests to change the highway or make additions (such as signage or crossing points etc.) as one of the first things the Schemes team will check, is that efforts are already being made to combat the issues using “soft measures” initially and that the school are proactive and engaged with myself.
- Grant Funding: It was explained that schools can apply for capital grant funding (when it is made available) of up to £5000 towards any infrastructure that will promote active and sustainable travel to/from school. (For example, that could be cycle or scooter storage, welly sheds or improved pathways or access.). One of the criteria for the grant funding applications is that the improvements can only be made on the school-owned land. As such, JW pointed out that the JWJS own the field that is next to the Hayden car park and suggests that they could apply for funding for a pathway that will link, more easily and directly, the car park users to the school access.
- Responsible Parking toolkit: Leaflets have been provided to RH so that immediate action can be taken in the dispersal of these resources if suitable. However, IR has pointed out that in working in partnership with the local borough council leader, the Responsible Parking toolkit is receiving a “revamp”; currently the responsible parking resources have two key messages – one is a generic message and the other is “keep off our Zig Zags”.
The new resources will cover the following 6 key parking issues and schools will be able to request resources that are appropriate to the issues they are facing:
- Clean air (switching off engines)
- Double Parking
- Leaving space for Emergency services
- Pavement parking
- Zig Zag parking
- Being considerate of neighbours
This particular toolkit can be adapted to suit each individual school’s needs. For example, some schools have used the RP resources as a baseline and then built their own campaigns off the back of this. Schools have previously created their own little “parking squads” who have personally handed out the resources to drivers around their school sites.
This education can also take part in the form of school assemblies and newsletters. One school has previously incorporated it into their parents evening by handing out the educational leaflets as standard to all parents in attendance. Another school has incorporated it in to their classrooms with exercises such as persuasive letter writing – “write a letter to parents to persuade them to park further from the school site”.
Visit the website to find out more: www.respsonsibleparking.co.uk
- Active Travel Initiatives: IR has reminded everyone that there are many various ways in which the schools can encourage and enable active travel for their families. The Big Pedal, Walk on Wednesdays, Operation Motion : Giant Steps travel challenge and walking buses (the school already has one of these approaching from the Infant school side) are just a few. It would be ultimately down to the schools to decide which of these initiatives are appropriate to push and be involved with, although, as was agreed around the table, the parents cannot be forced to be “on board” with these efforts.
- MS has reiterated that the most important steps that should first be taken above all else is to educate drivers on the importance of parking responsibly and by engaging with active travel initiatives whole-heartedly whenever possible.
- MS reassured attendees that enforcement does occur and that all schools across the borough will be visited on rostered basis. Due to resources being incredibly limited, schools and local residents can feel that these visits are not regular enough, however they are doing their very best to ensure that the spread of patrols is fair and as per the rota.
- Additional points for noting:
- Alan and Steve have advised that they too, whilst required to cover the entire borough, continue to regularly patrol the schools and surrounding areas and will of course offer their help wherever possible however they will not be able to fine or issue penalties as part of their role in the community.
- It was suggested towards the end of the meeting that another walking bus from the “Junior school side” could be investigated. This would operate on an informal basis – i.e. run by parents who are willing to lead the initiative and not the responsibility of school staff to organise.
- IR will find suitable KCC contact to assist with the Infant school’s continuous efforts to get to the bottom of what can/can’t be done with maintenance or adjustments to Tile Kiln Lane .
- A parent has kindly agreed that he will open the Hayden Gates 4 days a week (as per his availability) at an earlier time so that the schools can encourage parents to use this large car park and walk the final 5/10mins to the school gates.
- BG agreed to provide IR with contact for the community centre.
- IR to arrange date for follow up meeting with RH and JW
- All attendees now understand and agree that to achieve a change in driver behaviour at peak times, it will require collaborative approaches and good relationships between schools, parents and residents all round. Abusive or confrontational approaches will not be useful moving forward.
- All agreed that there is no singular solution to the issue of irresponsible and unsafe parking habits and nor is it the responsibility of the school to control parent behaviour outside of the school grounds.
- IR will support RH and JW in completing and making publicly available the school travel plan documents
- If grant funding becomes available again this year, JW suggests that a bid could be made for suitable pathways across Junior school owned field, linking the car park with Tile Kiln Lance. IR can support with this.