Published: 06:00, 02 June 2021
| Updated: 11:57, 08 June 2021
Parents who park dangerously and endanger young lives outside primary schools in Dartford run the risk of being fined.
CCTV is set to be installed in several locations across the borough in a clampdown on irresponsible driving during pick-up and drop-off times.
The cameras are being deployed initially in four locations covering three schools and will focus on road markings.
They are Manor Community Primary in Swanscombe, Brent Primary School in Stone and Dartford Primary Academy in East Hill.
CCTV and the option of fines would allow the council to "catch people in the act," says leader of the council, Jeremy Kite.
"It is not language I like to use but if they are behaving in a way that is putting young lives at risk there will be consequences," the Tory leader explained.
Reiterating his plea to make the act as anti-social as other crimes, Cllr Kite added: "What we have got to do is stop people behaving badly outside schools.
"It has to be as bad as drunk driving and driving without a seatbelt."
It is hoped the installation of additional cameras will be rolled out to further locations once additional columns and infrastructure is in place.
Cllr Kite, who is also a Kent county councillor, says they will be making the case to KCC's highways department and that Temple Hill Primary in St Edmunds Road, which has previously called for a designated drop-off zone, will be "top of that list".
Parent governor Darren Povey, whose daughter attends the Galaxy Trust-run school, said the CCTV was much needed.
"It is definitely a step in the right direction," he said, explaining how it would help clampdown on problematic "pavement parking" on the rise again.
Mr Povey began campaigning for people to take more care behind the wheel after his teenage son, Dean, was hit by a drug driver near the school.
He has now made a full recovery but the dad continues to campaign as part of Dartford Safer Roads to reduce speed limits to 20mph outside schools and residential streets.
And he believes while CCTV is welcome it won't necessarily pick up those speeding.
"The problem we have got still is the CCTV is fine for parents stopping but we still get people driving really fast down there," he added.
Dartford council has also been looking at neighbouring boroughs to see what more could be done to tackle dangerous driving near the school gates.
It comes as Newham council rolls out "healthy school streets" measures which aim to reclaim roads and make them safer for children.
This includes timed restrictions on access and other schemes promoting walking and cycling.
"London councils have more power than us with different rules and regulations," said Cllr Kite.
Despite additional regulatory hurdles, Cllr Kite said the borough was "not far behind" such initiatives which also factor in changes to street design and clearer signage around schools.
However, the council leader stopped short of endorsing timed restrictions, which he claimed could lead to additional problems of "displacement", where road closures simply move the problem a few hundred yards away.
Instead, he said the council would continue to press for the "right mix of solutions" in Dartford.
Cllr Kite said: “I am determined to take steps to improve the safety of local schoolchildren and one of the steps we are taking is the installation of CCTV cameras with enforcement capability around a number of schools in the borough.
“The CCTV enforcement cameras are intended to deter dangerous and irresponsible parking and provide robust evidence to support penalties and prosecution.
“I would have preferred this problem to be resolved by offending drivers showing more common sense and awareness around schools but none of us can accept behaviours that put young lives at risk and cause disruption to local communities."
His comments come after a recent near miss was reported near Manor Community Primary in Swanscombe, where last year a child was struck outside the school gates despite months of warnings.
Swanscombe Labour councillor and mum Emma Ben Moussa has become increasingly concerned about cars mounting the pavement outside her son’s school.
She said: "I'm relieved CCTV is going to be installed.
"Not only will it be the first time we will have CCTV but it is the first time we will have CCTV in the whole of Swanscombe."
The mum labelled the move an important "first step" and called for residents to be updated on future changes.
"We will see how this works and if it doesn't then we will take the next step," she added.
Despite this positive move, Cllr Ben-Moussa believes more enforcement officers are still needed outside school gates.
She said: "I think enforcement still needs to be higher across the borough, not just in Swanscombe."
But Cllr Kite expressed that his preference would be to address selfish behaviour by improving both regulations and signage around schools.
He said: "Even if we double the number of enforcement officers they still could not be everywhere and we can't put them in every part of the road outside the schools."
The council leader believes progress has been made in recent years but conceded there was always room to do more.
"It is common sense that no one would not care about this issue," he said. "But it has got to come down to the personal behaviour of people."