New bid to tackle parking at school gates

Neil Finnie and Cllr Marie Penman at Dunnikier Primary School
Neil Finnie and Cllr Marie Penman at Dunnikier Primary School

A local councillor and a council officer have been conducting a survey looking at the parking around Kirkcaldy’s primary schools.

Cllr Marie Penman and Neil Finnie, senior compliance officer for education and children’s services at Fife Council, stood outside school gates at the start and end of the day, taking note of the number of cars and the types of behaviour on display.

Both say they were disappointed with what they saw at the schools chosen from across Kirkcaldy’s area wards; Torbain, Kirkcaldy North, Burntisland, Sinclairtown, Viewforth and Dunnikier, but admitted that it was a problem which will be difficult to fix.

Cllr Penman said: “Although it was as bad as we thought it might be in some areas, we don’t really have a quick solution.

“At Sinclairtown Neil put on a hi-viz jacket, to stop people parking illegally. They completely ignored him and continued parking on the zigzag lines.”

Mr Finnie added: “It’s difficult so what we need to change are the cultural habits.

“It’s a mentality of ‘I just want to drive as close as I can and drop my child off’ and no amount of newsletters can change that.

“We’re finding that so many are arriving at the same time around about five to nine that it’s creating a crushpoint that’s impossible to manage.

“The culture is creating some dangerous points in Fife.

“It would be great if schools could come up with their own travel plans. I recognise that it would be quite difficult and some just don’t have the resources to do that, but it’s a great way to engage with parents.”

Recently some streets have been closed around schools in Edinburgh because of bad parking and in Essex a pilot scheme has seen some parents fined.

Mr Finnie said: “These are things we can look at, and it shows of course that this is not just a problem in Kirkcaldy, it’s right across the UK.

“But you can find with those sort of ideas that parents can become defensive.

“We need to come up with something innovative and I think what we should be doing is promoting the positives in children walking to school.

“It’s about independence, communication, exercise, and for parents to do themselves a favour and take a bit of stress out of the morning.

“I also think that pupil power can come into play, whereby the pupils can encourage their parents to change the way they think by telling them that they want to walk to school.”

Mr Finnie will now submit a report to the Area Committee and said: “I hope things can change.”

Cllr Penman added: “Our message to parents is ‘wake up and walk’.”