Campaign against danger outside school
ANGRY parents blocked a road to protest against selfish parking and dangerous driving outside a school.
Parents turned Willwood Avenue, Oakes, into a one-way street to make the street safer for children leaving Reinwood Junior School yesterday.
The narrow street has been a flashpoint for congestion, near-accidents and heated confrontations between parents and residents who have been unable to reach their homes.
Head teacher Graham Altoft said: "We've sent out stern letters to parents, but with limited success.
"We want to send the message out that it is not satisfactory. Parents should not be driving on the pavement. It's a selfish minority.
"Children have been clipped by vehicles mounting the pavement. A child was once knocked over.
"We don't want it to get to the stage where action is taken after someone dies."
Parent and protest leader Barbara Brice said: "The protest is to stop people parking illegally and putting kids' lives at risk and driving on the pavement.
" We know we can't stop them. We're just trying to make a point."
Another parent and protester, Tahir Yaqoob, said: "I'm asking for a coherent policy for schools across Kirklees.
"It's more than education. Enforcement is needed, because people won't do this voluntarily.
"We want police officers and traffic wardens to do the job."
School governor and Lindley councillor Tony Brice said: "It's important for the safety of the children.
"It's a nightmare at the moment because the road is the only way in and out of the school. It's become the last straw for parents.
"A permit zone for residents is essential and we've presented a petition to the council."
Resident Joy Thomas, of nearby Weymouth Avenue, said: "We need some sort of compromise. Children's safety is paramount, but residents shouldn't have to suffer. We need access morning and night."
Clr Martyn Bolt, Kirklees Council's Cabinet member responsible for transport matters, said: "We have been putting through a traffic regulation order so we can enforce parking restrictions on the zigzag lines outside schools.
"All schools should be doing a travel plan to reduce vehicles outside their premises.
"It's in their interest to complete their travel plans, because when they do the Government will give them money.
"Parking regulations don't cure a problem. They just disperse it. That's where the school travel plan comes in.
"Obstruction of public highways is a police issue, but we all want the same and we need to work together.
"I wouldn't be against naming and shaming the worst offenders. But draconian measures should be a last resort.
"I urge parents, teachers and school governors to get together and talk it over."
* The protest coincided with a condemnation by the Local Government Association of arrogant parents who risk lives by driving inconsiderately outside school gates.
In 2005, 16 children under eight were killed or seriously injured in road accidents every week, the association said.
Some 23 eight to 11-year-olds were injured or killed each day.
Several councils have already started to combat the problem.
Wolverhampton Council fines drivers £60 for ignoring `school - keep clear' signs. Buckinghamshire has a `name and shame' scheme, with photos of offenders.