Season ticket offer was already available to staff through business permits
Many borough schools are now in resident parking zones
A scheme meant to provide low cost parking for teachers in Hounslow Borough has been criticised for offering no more than is currently available under the existing business permit scheme.
Many of the borough’s teachers live outside the borough and those that previously used public transport are now being encouraged to drive instead if walking or cycling is not an option.
With a high proportion of the schools not having onsite parking and being in controlled parking zones there is now a significant extra expense for teaching staff.
The borough’s scheme grants eligibility to school staff for monthly season tickets, priced at £60 per calendar month, or £180 for three calendar months and will be valid from Monday to Friday. Part- time staff will pay a proportion of this charge. Permit holders will be permitted to park in any Pay and Display bays (except Stop ‘n Shop locations where 30 minutes free parking is permitted), resident and shared use bays and car parks. No physical permit will be issued for the staff to display but information will be loaded onto the borough’s parking enforcement team’s handheld devices to ensure they do not receive a PCN if parked correctly. School staff will need to send their application to firstname.lastname@example.org on a recognised school email address along with a photo of their id card and vehicle registrations documents, linking the vehicle to them. A daytime contact number should also be provided for payments to be taken.
Conservative Transport Spokesperson Cllr Sam Hearn said, “We welcome the Council’s recent announcement that it will provide a ‘low cost parking season ticket’ to school staff but regret that in practice this tailored offer is no more than a version of the current business parking permit scheme that teachers and others have long been eligible for. The cost, paid out of taxed income, is similar to that of the business permit.
“In addition, this disappointing scheme will only run for three months but the need for school staff to avoid public transport will continue until a vaccine has become generally available. The schools in Chiswick, and many elsewhere in the borough, are located within controlled parking zones and parking spaces at most schools is limited. Some teachers travelling long distances to work, or for whom a journey by public transport would be impractical, need to be able to park at or close to their schools.
“We have long campaigned for a low-cost parking permit for the school staff who really need one and we urge the Council to review the proposed scheme and for the sake of the education of the borough’s children produce a longer lasting and genuinely low cost option, similar perhaps to that available to residents”.
A Hounslow is classified as an outer London borough teachers in local schools are on a lower pay scale than those in neighbouring boroughs such as Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham.
The Council will be offering free 1:1 cycle training as well as promoting the Government’s cycle to work scheme, a subsidised bike loan scheme, enabling participants to make savings on the cost of buying a bike and equipment and spread the cost of the purchase through a salary sacrifice scheme.
School staff interested in the cycle to work scheme can find out more information here.
The council is also progressing a number of traffic management proposals to provide more space outside schools through the introduction of ‘school streets’. These schemes involve shutting roads to cars for short periods at arrival and dispersal times. Resident access is maintained. The Council is also offering signage and barriers to allow for parking to be suspended and footways to be widened where queuing may be taking place. Schools interested in discussing this further should contact STA@hounslow.gov.uk.
Councillor Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport at Hounslow Council said, “While we are keen to minimise road traffic on the borough’s roads, we recognise that as long as restrictions on public transport remain in place, some teaching staff will choose to drive to work. These key workers have been directed to return to their classrooms while the pandemic is still at large, and those who live further away from their place of work should not be penalised for choosing to drive under the circumstances. We feel that it is appropriate for the cost of parking be kept in line with the minimal cost they would pay for public transport.
“We do hope that school staff who can walk or cycle to work will choose to do so and that many will take advantage of our support package to help transition to cycling to work. We also stand by to assist schools to create more space outside their sites where necessary through closing roads and widening pavements.”
June 2, 2020