This classroom was recently empty for a whole day due to incredibly heavy traffic in Rochford and Ashingdon.

Parking tensions have never been higher around schools like Holt Farm Infants/Juniors in Ashingdon, where local media has reported that some parents admit arriving 35 minutes early by car just to pick their kids up safely, and a Southend News Network investigation has discovered that most parents feel that it is ‘too dangerous’ to let their children walk to school in Rochford and Southend.

Sophia Pasapied, 34, is a mother of three young children who lives in Ashingdon Road, she told our reporter that walking with her three children to her local primary school is a ‘mortifying prospect.’ She said, ‘It takes me around three minutes to complete the journey to school by road, and parking is never a problem as my Grand C4 Picasso tends to fit snugly in most gaps over driveways and access points for emergency services – most people don’t realise that those white lines across driveways are legally just a suggestion! Walking the same route into school while keeping an eye on all three kids simply isn’t an option for me as a number of homes in the area have dogs, and some of these are allowed to do their business wherever they like. I am terrified that one of them will pick up a piece of dog mess or a needle or something.’

Our investigation shows that this isn’t just a problem in Rochford, and many parents in Westcliff also feel that taking their kids to school by car is vital with so many vans using the roads these days. Melanie Axel has two children at Milton Hall Primary School in Salisbury Avenue in Westcliff, and she feels very strongly that walking is just too much of a risk. She said, ‘You read these stories almost every day about vans stopping close to where children are present, and nobody seems to mention the vans that are parked up with nobody in them – a blue Ford Transit with nobody in it beeped at my youngest son a few weeks ago and he is still shaken up about it. It seems to me that it is only a matter of time before a van exposes itself to a child, and by then it will be too late to act.’

Charlene Rosebush, 25, is another local parent who feels that the streets of Southend are no place for a child to walk to or from school, and fortunately her 9 year old gets a lift to her school in Bournemouth Park Road from a friend. She said, ‘In 2015, the dangers of walking to school outweigh the benefits considerably, and I would much rather that she learns about the world around her through her Facebook account. She doesn’t let me have the password, but I am able to keep an eye on what she is doing as we have always been friends on there.’