Thurrock Council has commenced a pilot scheme that will empower parents and teachers at Tilbury Primary School to issue parking tickets.
The scheme has been lauded as an innovative programme that may solve the multi-faceted issues of selfish (sometimes downright dangerous) parking around schools at the start and end of the school day; along with the chronic shortage of civil parking enforcement officers.
Parents, teachers, governors and PTA members have all been given training that will enable them to issue parking tickets in the locale of the school. This is a terrible idea – but not for the reason you may first think.
Listening to and reading the reports into this pilot, I began to see some benefits of such a scheme – until the bomb-shell. The council has issued the volunteers all the uniform and paraphernalia that our objects of rebuke wear as they patrol our double-yellowed lines.
Teachers, PTA members, teaching assistants and governors have a hugely important and often thankless task as they seek to educate and grow our young into model citizens. And so do our often-pilloried civil parking enforcement officers – when Traffic Wardens were first scrapped, villages and towns up and down our land quickly begged for their return when the temporary void was filled with parking anarchy in the absence of an effective deterrent.
Whilst we readily regard parking enforcement officers with little more then disdain (despite the fact that it’s our fault when we park illegally – and noting those that operate less than scrupulously), we hold those in the teaching profession in much higher regard. Any respect we hold them in will vanish in a puff of crumpled tickets as soon as they don the dreaded uniform of a parking enforcement officer, however.
It would surely be more effective if they retained their teaching garbs? Offenders may think twice before hurling abuse at little Jonny’s teacher – it could make parent’s evenings a bit fraught, and may even damage the relationship between teacher and pupil.
Better still – why not empower local residents to issue the tickets? Give the clipboard of power to those who are often incensed at not being able to use their drive; or those who are fed up with their grass verges being churned up by the latest visit of a Chelsea Tractor (vital for those undulating hills on the 1-mile journey to the school gates).
But then again, I can’t see the local neighbourhood watchers being too diplomatic or lenient to transgressors! How long would it be before our school gates were witness to public disorder and the arrival of blues and twos?
Ultimately this is a massively flawed and ill-thought out measure; and one which I dearly hope will be soon be stopped in its tracks. Teachers and TAs are already overstretched – looking out for signs of abuse, malnutrition, obesity, radicalisation…and fitting some teaching in too.
Whilst the sharing of some services in rural areas can make sense – such as the successful pilot of the fire brigade responding to ambulance calls – this obsession with pooling services must have a line in the sand; and this parking ticket example has clearly crossed it.
Some schemes simply do not make any sense, and teachers giving out parking tickets is about as logical as nurses giving change for hospital parking machines. When will it stop?
Perhaps we could have gas and electric meter readers moonlighting as Jehovah’s Witnesses – get a nice glossy brochure on how rude children are these days (the parent’s fault apparently) whilst you await your next extortionate utility bill?
Stewards at football grounds could steal from your bag whilst they search it – saving you from spending time with drug-crazed muggers?
Spam emailers could co-opt their services – get that ‘enlargement’ along with ‘performance enhancing pills’ ahead of meeting the latest hottie who’s been looking at your profile and thinks you’re cute (honestly).
Nice idea, Thurrock Council – but you should have thought this one through.
How would you solve the parking problems around our schools? Let everyone know in the comments section below.
Matt is a columnist and author on all things freelance, engineering and consultancy – with rants and thought-provoking observations thrown in for good measure. He also runs a freelance consultancy in Lincoln; fulfilling his lifelong ambition to be his own boss after 16 years serving in both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. His consultancy attracts and employs high quality engineers alongside the finest defence and business professionals. Matt is a Chartered Engineer, and avid reader and huge football fan.