COUNCIL bosses have recorded a 17 per cent rise in the number of parents parking illegally and inconsiderately outside Hartlepool schools.
Hartlepool Borough Council chiefs says almost all schools in town are reported to have parking issues of some sort despite controversial schemes such as its patrolling camera car which was introduced in 2011 to clampdown on offending vehicles.
The camera car – which uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to snare offenders – detected 542 parking offences on both school keep clear markings and yellow lines throughout 2013 - a increase on the 2012 figure of 463.
And local authority bosses say the rise is “worrying”.
Paul Watson, the council’s Road Safety Officer, said: “We would urge families to walk to school wherever possible – it reduces congestion outside schools, it makes for good exercise and is good for the environment.
“If you can’t walk all of the way to school then park legally and safely some distance away and walk the rest of the way. This helps keep areas around schools clear and improves safety for those that walk and cycle.
“However, if you do need to drive, observe parking restrictions and park responsibly – avoiding parking around junctions, across driveways and across dropped crossings.”
In conjunction with the national charity Living Streets, the council is working with schools on a Walk to School outreach project to encourage walking.
In Year One, walking rates at participating Hartlepool primary schools increased 8 per cent on average to 66 per cent. The number of children walking to school increased from 2,610 to 2,970, equating to over 350 fewer peak-time car trips on the school journey.
The council is also urging people to get on their bikes and reap the health and environmental benefits.
Bikeability is a Department for Transport-funded National Standard for cycle training which aims to give people the knowledge, confidence and skills to travel around the town safely.
The Council offers Level 1 and 2 training to all Year 6 pupils and is looking to roll out Level 3 training to Year 7 – Year 9 pupils as well as offering refresher courses to adults. Ring (01429) 523590 for further details.