My new car has got one of those fancy stop-start engines. You know the ones I mean, it cuts out and goes into a sort of standby mode when you are stopped in traffic or at the lights.

It is a little disconcerting at first. I kept on thinking I’d stalled but I really quite like it now.

I’m happy I’m not wasting money and it’s doing a little bit for the environment.

So it was with some surprise I read on the website recently that more than one in four parents and guardians have admitted to leaving their car’s engine running while waiting at the gates to pick up their children from school.

But as in-person schooling returned after home schooling during the Covid-19 pandemic, an increasing number of parents admitted to driving their children to school rather than using public transport, analysis suggests the problem could severely worsen.

The website reported that studies by charity Unicef has estimated that one in three children in the UK grow up breathing unsafe levels of air pollution.

That could intensify now that 62 per cent of parents say they are more likely to drive their children to and from school as a result of the pandemic, according to a new poll by French car maker Renault.

It revealed that of the 4,000 parents it studied 27 per cent leave their engines idling during the school run.

Dads are 50 per cent more likely to leave the engines running than mums, the survey found, with a third of men saying they don’t switch their car engine off while waiting for their children, compared to one in five (22 per cent) of women.

So with this in mind, I was delighted to see a report from Local Democracy Reporter Belinda Ryan that says Cheshire East Council is to consider how it can crackdown on drivers who leave their engines running while parked – especially parents waiting outside schools for their children.

Quite rightly, councillors are concerned about the impact of car idling on air quality and health. A recent full council meeting was told that Central Bedfordshire Council had recently adopted new legal powers whereby people could be fined if they left their engines running while parked.

Cheshire East Council leader Sam Corcoran told the meeting: “The exhaust emissions, particularly from diesel cars, can be harmful to health and particularly where you see people running a diesel engine car outside a primary school when they’re waiting to collect children.

“I think that does need to be addressed. I would welcome a discussion over how best to address that.”

Far be it from me to tell Cllr Corcoran how to do his job but this seems to be a no-brainer to me. Getting hit with an £80 fine would certainly concentrate the minds of those selfish drivers and do just a little to help protect the lives of our children.

On another topic, it’s that time when we reflect on what has happened in the previous 12 months and look ahead to what we can expect, or hope for, in the coming year.

Just to be clear, I don’t have any predictions for 2022. The number of holidays I have had to cancel over the past two years would indicate that wait and see is a better option than making firm plans. However, I do have some hopes.

I truly hope the scientific and bio-medical industries keep up the remarkable good work and produce vaccines and therapeutic treatments that can really help us to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have all lived under the shadow of a potentially lethal virus for almost two years and while it is grindingly oppressive, I remain hopeful that a combination of science and good sense will finally bring some light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope the dire forecasts of rampant inflation don’t come to pass. I am old enough to remember the days of high inflation and it’s not something I wish to experience again but sadly I think my hopes may be misplaced.

But my biggest hope is that we can have a government that is honest and truthful, whatever political party is in charge. I want to see an end to sleaze, cronyism and scandals.

I want a government that makes its decisions for the good of everyone and not for the benefit of vested interests or to placate a vocal minority.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?