PARENTS were banned from parking outside their child's school in Hockley as part of a move to make the drop off and pick up times safer. 

Westerings Primary Academy, in Sunny Road, and Rochford District Council have piloted a "School Streets Zone" as part of the Great Big Green Week.

Aimed at promoting safer and healthier commutes for students, the one-day pilot on Wednesday saw the closure of Sunny Road to all vehicles from 8.15am to 9am and 2.30pm to 3.30pm.

This initiative followed concerns from parents and residents about congestion and safety during the school pick-up and drop-off hours.

Westerings and the council organised "walking buses" to allow children to walk together to school.  

Henry Muss, Rochford District Council's climate and sustainability manager, said: "The turnout of more than 300 children and parents, who would normally drop off the kids at the car park on walking bus days, walking together down the traffic-free Sunny Road was fantastic.

"This pilot demonstrates how small changes can produce significant benefits for our community as well as our environment in tackling the second largest source of carbon pollution in the district of Rochford - transport emissions.

"This approach is designed not only to mitigate congestion and make school streets safer but also to provide an opportunity for parents and children to enjoy quality time walking together.

"I hope the success of this pilot will pave the way for other schools to follow suit."

Notably, almost 80 per cent of Westerings’ families live within walking distance of the school.

In support of them, the parents were provided with free parking at the library car park and on surrounding streets during the pilot.

Those who live farther afield were able to park-and-walk from any three recommended locations.

This comes after the success of the scheme in Southend with West Leigh Junior School and West Leigh Infants School both installing it permanently.

Adam Stainsbury, Westerings Primary Academy headteacher, added: "Seeing hundreds of Westerings children safely walk to school during the Great Big Green Week was remarkable.

"Not only is walking to school better for their physical and mental health, it's also better for the environment and reduces the number of vehicles unnecessarily congesting the streets for other road users.

"On a daily basis, we unfortunately see drivers outside the school gates making hasty or risky choices which put other families at risk, all with a view to saving a few minutes in the morning.

"With almost 80 per cent of our families living within walking distance of the school, we want to do everything in our power to encourage more families to make safer and healthier choices."