Sleaford headteacher reacts to mobile CCTV cars being ditched in favour of more warden foot patrols outside school gates.

The county council's CCTV car has been scrapped due to cost in favour of more foot patrols outside schools. EMN-200121-122420001
The county council's CCTV car has been scrapped due to cost in favour of more foot patrols outside schools. EMN-200121-122420001

Lincolnshire County Council is to increase parking warden foot patrols outside schools in an effort to tackle drivers flouting parking restrictions.

The authority made the move to hire more parking officers after it voted to scrap a mobile CCTV car scheme introduced on a trial basis in 2017.

The cameras, which targeted eight of the county’s most severely congested schools, including Sleaford’s William Alvey, are said to have cost £39,360 to run from October 2018 until December 2019 and handed out 435 penalty charges, raising £14,306 in income.

But the council has stopped the mobile CCTV due to concerns over the cost of further rolling out the scheme, and the limited number of schools the vehicles could cover.

Following the trial’s extension in September 2018, the authority set up a working group to look at the scheme and other options to monitor school ‘keep clear’ zones.

Councillors on the authority’s highways committee discussed the scheme on Monday and opted for additional, more visible patrols to provide greater coverage outside schools across the county.

Coun Richard Davies, executive member for highways, said the mobile cameras had not worked well.

“The reality is, that it has not changed people’s behaviour,” he said.

“If the car is not there then people don’t act anymore socially, so what we’re going to explore now is to put extra resource into more traditional enforcement, and enforcement officers on the ground doing foot patrols.”

He added that the issue of parking outside schools was the “hardest nut to crack” and there was “no one-fix solution to the problem”.

Two additional enforcement officers will be employed along with a designated vehicle, radio, body-worn camera and other equipment amounting to £40,000 a year. Council officers said existing enforcement staff would also patrol outside school entrances. Officials added that foot patrols saw a “greater compliance” from drivers outside schools.

Headteacher of William Alvey School, Stephen Tapley said he would have been disappointed if the CCTV car, designed to make the road outside his school safer, was simply removed to save money.

He said: “Anything that makes it safer for our children at pick up and drop off times is very welcome. It would be even better though if we could combine these extra patrols with some more ‘positive’ initiatives, perhaps a designated drop off zone, a park and stride scheme, additional walking buses, extra bus routes or even shared parking areas.”

He said the school pays staff to run four free ‘walking buses’ to school every morning from different locations.

“This costs us £2,000 a year but it is something we are willing to include in our budget because it’s win-win; there is less congestion outside the school, the children get a walk in the mornings, and for parents it gives them a little extra free child care,” he said, suggesting this could be developed with any savings from the CCTV car.