"I wish we could crush the vehicles" - Bedford councillor slams illegal parking outside schools

Officers are getting abuse from parents as they try to enforce the law and keep the children safe

By John Guinn, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 10:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 10:56 am
Borough Hall in Bedford
Borough Hall in Bedford

A senior Bedford councillor would like to have the cars found parking illegally on zigzags outside schools crushed, a meeting heard.

Bedford Borough Council’s Climate Change Committee (Monday, November 15) heard Councillor Charles Royden’s (LibDems, Brickhill Ward) views on parking enforcement during a debate on an air quality report.

He said: “We just introduced a new parking patrol vehicle which will be going out with a squad of officers and going to schools to enforce people who are parking unlawfully.

“We’re using as much technology and investments as we can, there was one camera, I think, at a school that got 47 tickets in a month for people parking on zigzags.

“It’s the worst place you can park, and still they do it. It really drives me to distraction.

“I wish we could crush the vehicles, that’s how I feel about it, because they’re putting children’s lives at risk. This isn’t just anti-social, this is so dangerous.

“Children are getting knocked over and hurt, and it’s got to stop.”

He was responding to a question from Councillor Lucy Bywater (Green, Castle Ward) about how many Community Protection Notices (CPNs) had been issued to idling vehicles.

“I’m really happy to see the work reducing vehicle idling, this is really positive, so thank you to the team for working on that. How much active enforcement is happening in terms of CPNs?” she asked.

Councillor Royden, who is the portfolio holder for environment, highways and transport, said: “Fixed penalty notices – zero, because we can’t issue them for idling.

“It’s not an offence that we can prosecute people for, so it’s a request that we ask people to switch their engines off.

“But if somebody decides that they want to have their vehicle parked lawfully, but idling, then we can’t issue a ticket just for the idling.

“I wish we could,” he said.

Matthew D’Archambaud, chief officer for highways, transport & engineering, said: “There’s certainly a greater emphasis on us to be enforcing parking restrictions in and around schools.

“So we are taking a much tougher line now with people at the school gate, people who are parking in contravention of parking restrictions.”

Borough mayor, Dave Hodgson added that the civil enforcement officers are getting abuse from parents as they try to enforce the law and keep the children safe.

“We need to make that socially unacceptable, so I just want to go on the record as thanking them for the work they’re doing, and putting up with it.

“And also those headteachers and teachers that go out to try and enforce this themselves and who also get abuse.

“It’s really not acceptable,” he said.