parents face threat of ban on children
Head warns: Pupils will be removed
if you break parking rules
A PRIVATE primary school has threatened to bar children whose
parents flout parking rules during the daily school run in Hampstead.
The shock warning from Serena Alexander, headteacher at Devonshire
House School in Fitzjohns Avenue, marks the latest development
in an increasingly tense row over peak-time parking in the north
of the borough.
Ms Alexander declined to speak to the New Journal but, in a
letter to parents, has warned that there will be sanctions for
Her letter says: We are fielding angry telephone calls
and letters from residents and are dismayed that a small handful
of parents are giving the school a bad name with our neighbours.
It is with regret that the school has decided that any
parents who persistently put others in danger may be asked to
remove their child(ren) from the school, for the protection
The alert at the £3,400a-term school coincides with
a massive Town Hall row over parking permits. Parents furious
at the councils withdrawal of parking concessions demonstrated
at last Wednesdays full council meeting. All permits are
due to be phased out by 2008.
Schools Travel Action Group (Stag), which organised the protest
and counts celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and Star Wars actor Ewan
McGregor among its members, handed over a 1,500-signature petition
Kate Gibbons, from Stag, told councillors: Stop withdrawing
parking permits and reinstate the permits withdrawn. Some schools
have already lost 50 per cent of their parking, affecting private
schools and state schools alike.
Every seat in the public gallery was taken as councillors discussed
the issue, often interrupted by cheers or howls of derision.
Some rival protesters argued that children should be encouraged
to walk to school not driven there.
Labour environment chief Councillor John Thane said the council
would not budge on the policy of withdrawing permits. He told
the meeting: Parents are still free to choose any school
and to take their children by any means they choose, including
driving them there by car, but the council is not helping parents
who use cars.
The withdrawal of permits was intended to change behaviour,
to influence the choices of school made by parents and the way
children travel to classes, he added. Cllr Thane produced statistics
showing the school-run traffic dominated roads in the mornings
and afternoons and warned that emergency services could
He added: It would be daft of us to undermine policy to
make concessions to parents who still take their children to
school by car. Its absolutely important that we keep faith
Opposition councillors are warning that a problem fueling the
school-run tension is the difficulty parents have in finding
a quality state primary school in Camden.
Conservative councillor Andrew Mennear said: Camden has
taken its eye off the ball in recent years and schools are not
performing as well as everyone thinks they are. There is a lack
of choice for parents but Camden is turning a blind eye to it.
He said that not just well-off families but also working class
parents were having to choose private alternatives because they
could not find a primary school they were happy with.
Labour education chief Councillor Lucy Anderson said: All
our schools are popular and oversubscribed. Local parents send
their children to local schools and thats what we want