IT IS a very modern dilemma, I would submit.

News this week that fed-up residents in a Southampton street are threatening to blockade their own thoroughfare on the grounds that they have problems with poorly-parked vehicles, would seem to be a case of nose cutting to spite faces.

After all, the residents’ cause, to open their road up to free flowing traffic, would hardly be enhanced by such a move.

Yet the point is made.

The problem is caused by parents parking willy-nilly on pavements, across grass verges and at all manner of angles while they deliver to or pick up their children from a nearby school.

For the parents the choice, they say, is finding anywhere to park that permits them to drop off their little charges, or collect them after school that doesn’t mean a long trudge to the school gates, in this case a junior school.

For some the problem is exacerbated by the need to deliver and pick up children at different schools. How can they be in two places at once?

While a solution to the problem is now being explored by city councillors – there is a petition to provide a new car park – the incident opens up a new debate on how we educate our children today.

Or, more to the point, where we educate them.

For most of us of a certain age, going to school meant a walk of a mile or two at most. Mum was usually in, too, as most households had just one car and that had gone to work with Dad.

I can recall being allowed to walk to class and return home on my own from about the age of nine or ten.

Certainly I was never delivered to my senior school.

True, the roads were much quieter in those far-off days of the 60s and 70s.

Safety fears play a large part in why so many children are now driven to school. But only a part.

Many children travel quite some distance today to reach the school of their parents’ choice.

Freedom to choose the best school comes at a price, and not just in congestion.

Time and money are spent delivering students.

It may get worse.

From time to time we hear politicians threatening to remove catchment areas around schools and to open them up to children from even farther afield in a bid to even opportunities for children from less well off backgrounds.

Such a move would most certainly mean even more traffic chaos.

The final factor in all of this is the school staff themselves, most of whom probably live a good distance from their place of work.

And while staff do not park on the verges, they do hog the car parks, forcing parents to use the streets.

Is the answer then to return to days when rigid catchment areas meant everyone lived close to the school gate?

Well yes, but that’s not likely to happen.

I do not know if the school in question has a walk to class club or policy of encouraging parents to share cars or even organise their own ‘walking buses’ for youngsters.

A statement issued by the school through the city council – alas, gone are the days when head teachers felt empowered enough to speak for themselves – claimed that parents were encouraged to think of alternative ways of travel.

Good. It’s a pity few of them appear to have bothered.