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Children petition Tower Hamlets Council to stop parents dropping them off at the school gate!

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 September 2019 | UPDATED: 18:47 20 September 2019

Young petitioners from Isle of Dogs' Arnhem Primary School ready to address Tower Hamlets Council. Picture: Mike Brooke

Young petitioners from Isle of Dogs' Arnhem Primary School ready to address Tower Hamlets Council. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Children have declared war on parents dropping off youngsters at the gates of their Isle of Dogs primary school, demanding that Tower Hamlets Council sends in parking wardens to hand out fines.

10-year-old Fatmata tells councillors about parents parking illegally on yellow lines near her school entrance often leaving engines running. Picture: Mike Brooke10-year-old Fatmata tells councillors about parents parking illegally on yellow lines near her school entrance often leaving engines running. Picture: Mike Brooke

Three 10-year-olds presented a petition to the town hall and addressed last night's council meeting demanding tough parking restrictions outside Arnhem Wharf Primary.

They formed what was probably the youngest-ever delegation to a council meeting and petitioned the authority to "prevent people parking dangerously in Westferry Road".

Year 6 pupil Fatmata told the councillors: "Parents are parking illegally on yellow lines near the entrance, causing pollution and increasing the chance of accidents."

Fatmata and classmates Mahdi and Robin at the town hall. Picture: Mike BrookeFatmata and classmates Mahdi and Robin at the town hall. Picture: Mike Brooke

The young delegates had actions they want the council to take, like sending in traffic wardens when the school opens and at home time to hand out fines, warnings or points to offenders on yellow lines.

Fatmata and classmates Mahdi and Robin had arrived with their headteacher and their Year 6 teacher who co-ordinates Arnhem Wharf's children's rights programme.

Young Mahdi told the East London Advertiser afterwards: "Many parents stop in their cars right in front of our school listening to the radio or using their phones while leaving their engines running, which fills the air with fumes.

The young petition delegates arrive at the town hall with head teacher Sarah Haynes (left) and Year 6 teacher Frances Stephens. Picture: Mike BrookeThe young petition delegates arrive at the town hall with head teacher Sarah Haynes (left) and Year 6 teacher Frances Stephens. Picture: Mike Brooke

"Our first idea was to change the yellow lines to zigzags because you are by law actually allowed to stop on double-yellow lines."

Arnhem Wharf has its own school council to let pupils have a voice in its decision-making.

Headteacher Sarah Haynes told the paper: "We encourage children to debate and to have a voice in the wider community. I don't think they need much training to be the politicians of tomorrow."

The youngsters meet Tower Hamlets councillor Danny Hassell, cabinet member responsible for children and schools. Picture: Mike BrookeThe youngsters meet Tower Hamlets councillor Danny Hassell, cabinet member responsible for children and schools. Picture: Mike Brooke

The petition was the children's idea, so Year 6 teacher Frances Stephens who is Arnhem Wharf's pupil voice leader arranged the delegation to the town hall.

She said: "We get complaints from people living near the school about cars dropping pupils off at the school gate every day.

"We've talk to the parents, but some are quite argumentative about it, so we encourage more people to walk or cycle to school."

Tower Hamlets has accepted the children's petition and is to look into better ways to enforce parking controls outside Arnhem Wharf when the pupils are arriving or leaving.

The council is already rolling our a programme to create 50 permanent "play streets" outside primary schools across the East End where cars would be banned altogether. That would solve Arnhem Wharf's problem.

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