Councillor claims ‘pyjama brigade’ parents are exposing children to 'hugely damaging' pollution in South Tyneside

Councillors have called for a crackdown on ‘pyjama brigade’ parents and the ‘hugely damaging’ pollution they could be exposing children to outside South Tyneside schools.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 5:45 pm
Picture c/o Pixabay

The issue of bad air quality around schools has been highlighted in a report to South Tyneside Council (STC), which warned potential impacts on youngsters including infections, asthma or underdeveloped lungs.

And it warned ‘badly parked’ cars around school at pick-up and drop-off times were ‘contributing to dangerous levels of congestion and pollution’.

“A lot of people recycle now through their children, but we still have a culture of the pyjama brigade who take their children to school at the last minute,” said Coun Ernest Gibson.

Councillor Ernest Gibson

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“[Engine idling] is an enforceable act and we should be enforcing it.

“I think we should be coming down on these people, you can educate as much as you want but there’s still a culture of ‘I don’t care if there’s no one enforcing it’.”

Coun Gibson, who was speaking at a meeting of STC’s Place Select Committee, which he also chairs, has previously called for the council to act on idling cars outside schools.

Local authorities have the power to fine drivers for leaving their engines running, but only if a motorist refuses to switch off their engine off when asked to.

Thanks to a £314,000 grant from the government’s Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the council has invested in 10 sensors to be deployed around schools in the borough to monitor emissions levels.

Several schools have already been selected, with air quality expected to be recorded over about three months, before being moved to another school, while parents will be given guidance on environmentally friendly transport.

“There’s an issue with vehicle idling, the number of vehicles sitting there with engines chugging away,” said Trevor Male, STC’s strategic transport lead.

“I think we need to accept there’s certain families where the school run is also part of the journey to work, but some parents could also park slightly further away and walk part of the way to school.”

However, he also accepted some schools were located near such busy roads that walking, for most families, was a ‘non starter’.