SPENDING less than 30 minutes outside The Costello School in Basingstoke provided clear proof that parents and other adults picking up children have not got the message about heeding pleas not to park outside the gates. Many people are just blatantly ignoring no-stopping signs.
In February, The Gazette went along to observe drop-off and pick-up times at The Costello School to find out just how bad the problem was with parents parking illegally on single and double yellow lines.
At the time, it was a year since 14-year-old Louise Eames suffered fatal injuries after she was hit by a car while crossing London Road, on her way to the school in Crossborough Hill.
Although the accident was no one’s fault, her death should have acted as a tragic reminder to drivers about the need to drive, and park, sensibly in the area.
At the time, The Gazette witnessed more than 50 drivers parking illegally, putting schoolchildren trying to cross the road in an even more vulnerable position.
We published pictures of offending cars in the paper in the hope it might shame the drivers into improving their behaviour.
Seven months later, we returned to see if the situation had improved. The yellow lines had been repainted, and there were clear signs informing drivers of the restrictions. But still numerous cars pulled up and parked on Crossborough Hill.
The restrictions on the single yellow lines ban parking between 8am and 7pm from Monday to Friday – yet around 10 cars were parked there when we arrived just before 3pm.
A mother-of-three, who did not want to be named, said: “Everyone does it. There’s nowhere else to park. I’m in a rush and there’s not enough parking. I know we shouldn’t do it – it is dangerous.”
Martin Wigmore, from Chineham, has two children at Costello and was also parked on the single yellow line.
Despite Costello staff constantly asking parents in newsletters not to park outside the school, he claimed not to have seen any of these pleas.
He was parked directly next to a sign informing him of the restrictions, but said: “They (the school) should make it clear where we can park.”
A taxi driver for All District Cars pulled up in the bus stop, and said: “A teacher told me to park here.”
She admitted not knowing the restrictions, adding: “I don’t have a clue whether I should park in a bus stop.”
A taxi also parked on the zig-zag lines in London Road, right where children struggle to cross. But despite numerous parents still flouting the law, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council wardens have incredibly only issued one parking control notice between March 1 and October 1, in Crossborough Hill.
Julia Mortimore, headteacher at the school, said: “We obviously still encourage parents not to park on London Road or Crossborough Hill to keep a clear flow of traffic and make it safer for students, but a number of parents still persist in parking in the wrong places.”
She said plans are finally in place for proper crossings to be installed in London Road.
Councillor Mel Kendal, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for environment and transport, confirmed this and said: “The county council has developed proposals for a series of uncontrolled crossing points, with dropped kerbs and tactile paving, to be installed on London Road, to help pedestrians and encourage traffic to travel at an appropriate speed.
“The crossing points will have refuge islands with bollards to indicate the crossing locations to drivers and protect users. The tactile paving will assist those with visual impairments to identify where the crossing points are.
“There are also changes planned for the Eastrop Lane junction with London Road which will help to encourage drivers to moderate their speeds as they turn out of the junction.
“The scheme will be subject to county council approval in December and it is expected that work will begin towards the end of January.”