A SCOTTISH council has become the first in the UK to ban the school run following an outcry about “crazy” parking by parents.
Mums and dads on the school run will be forced to park around 300 metres from primary and infant schools in the East Lothian town of Haddington.
The crackdown will involve closing roads close to the schools during the morning and afternoon collection times.
Only local residents and the disabled will be allowed to drive in the newly-pedestrianised zones.
The move has been blamed by the local council on parents desperate to park within feet of the school gates.
Some carrying out other dangerous manoeuvres in narrow, congested streets as young children mill around.
Across Scotland, tensions have mounted in recent years as residents and parents on the school run clash over parking spaces.
East Lothian Council said it believed it was the first local authority anywhere in the UK to take the controversial step.
Parents’ groups praised the council’s “brave” decision, saying it was a serious issue, though the AA warned the ban could just move the problem elsewhere.
Roads near King’s Meadow Primary School, Haddington Infant School and St Mary’s RC Primary school will be turned into pedestrianised zones during school run times, except for residents, blue badge and permit holders.
From April next year, traffic movement will be stopped from 8.30am to 9.30am, and 3pm to 4pm from Monday to Thursday.
On Fridays, when local schools close at lunchtime, no vehicles will be allowed from 8.30am to 9.30am, and 11.45am to 12.45pm.
The experimental traffic regulations will run until June the following year.
The council’s Senior Area Manager (East), Peter Forsyth, said: “The behaviours of these drivers, who make dangerous turning and reversing manoeuvres and contribute to congestion, cause difficulties for the majority of pupils and parents who walk or cycle to and from school.
“It is totally inappropriate to try and carry out these sort of manoeuvres close to schools where there is a great number of schoolchildren present.
“Following representations from the parent councils of the three schools, it was agreed to introduce the experimental traffic regulation order.”
He added: “East Lothian Council may be the first council in the whole of the UK to take this approach.”
He said support from Lothian and Borders Police to enforce the ban would be sought.
Local councillor Stuart Currie told a meeting on the issue last week: “It is this crazy attitude of trying to get five feet closer to the school by parents who are putting their own children at risk.”
And Councillor Norman Hampshire told the same meeting: “At all our primary schools right across East Lothian we have got this issue with parents trying to take their cars as close to the school gates as they possibly can and the significant problem that causes for people trying to walk to school.”
Eleanor Coner, of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said: “I think it’s a very brave decision by the local authority. It sends out a very strong message.
“It’s certainly a big issue wherever I go in Scotland, there are always complaints about parking and traffic in schools.
“It’s not getting any better, there are more cars on the roads.”
But Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “It’s easy to vilify the school run but you need to look at the deeper issues.
“Sometimes parents need their cars to go on to work after dropping their children off.”
Mr King said councils should look at other solutions beyond banning traffic from certain areas.
He said: “In our experience the best solutions to road safety issues comes from the kids themselves,when they develop their own travel plans.
“I think sometimes when the local authority takes action this backfires and transfers the problem onto adjacent streets.
“You’ve still got the same number of cars but the problem has moved.
“It’s not getting to the bottom of the problem, if you get kids to do a travel plan then they can consider other options.”
He said “walking buses”, where adults accompany groups of children in walking to school, could be another option.
Earlier this year, Dundee council carried out a special survey after a child was knocked down outside the city’s St Andrew’s Primary School.
Another pupil at the school was reportedly knocked down before the Christmas holidays.
Last year, a woman who drove her two children to school while drunk was banned from driving.
Aileen Williamson, from Perthshire, admitted driving more than three times over the limit with two 14-year-old passengers.
An insider at the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said they were not aware of any other schemes such as East Lothian’s in Scotland.
The Local Government Association, which represents local councils in England and Wales, said they were not aware of any such schemes.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said other local authorities may want to follow East Lothian Council’s move in the future.
Kathleen Braidwood, road safety officer for RoSPA Scotland, said: “It is good to see a council proactively looking at ways to reduce risks to children using the roads in Scotland.
“Our road safety framework in Scotland encourages the development of new initiatives to help reduce casualties on our roads.
“Once this pilot scheme has been evaluated other local authorities may look to adopt a similar approach.
“Making roads and areas safer makes a more pleasant environment for everyone.”
Haddington resident John Douglas, 60, is more concerned about the safety of children walking with their parents than cars taking parking spaces on the street.
He said: “During the morning and afternoon pick up times the road gets very busy with cars.
“A lot of mothers also like to walk their children to school and they can spill out onto the road. It is concerning because many of the vehicles do not slow down.”
“There is no turning point in the street so cars have to perform three-point turns and they often end up on the pavement.”
But Alison McArthur, 43, mother of children at the nursery and primary schools, said there was often nowhere else to park.
She said: “[the parking] around here can be quite bad and I hate it when my kids are on the pavement when cars are doing what are really 23 point turns and mounting the pavement.
“But there is nowhere else to park. We have been advised to use the car park by the swimming pool which is ok in the morning but in the afternoon it is full by about ten to three.”
East Lothian council said the proposal had been approved by the council’s cabinet, and would now go to a “variety of parties” for agreement.