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Pioneering school closes road to traffic

Parent: ‘We are so happy because it’s so dangerous’

10 February, 2017 — By Tevye Markson

As the bollards were installed on Tuesday, a lorry driver pleaded to allow him to deliver to Macklin Street

A PRIMARY school has become the country’s first to close its road during busy traffic times.

School manager Jamie Ansley and Jennifer Blanchfield helped put up the bollards on the drivers’ entrance to St Joseph’s in Macklin Street, Covent Garden, on Tuesday.

The road will be closed between 8.30am and 9.15am and 3.15pm, and 4pm.

Ms Blanchfield said: “The school has been campaigning for quite a number of years now to improve the safety outside and to reduce the number of people who drive.”

Camden Council approached the school, offering a pilot of what they are calling Healthy School Streets. A 2015 study found that nearly 10,000 deaths in London in 2010 were connected to pollution.

There were three serious and one fatal collision within close proximity of St Joseph’s in 2015. They said that since the introduction of the pilot scheme the school had seen a 50 per cent reduction in children arriving by car. As the bollards went up a lorry driver pleaded with the managers to let him nip in and make a delivery to a Macklin Street business.

But the response has been “mostly positive”, Ms Blanchfield said, adding that businesses in the area, while initially reluctant, have accepted the compromise of 45 minutes, twice a day and only during term-time.

Parent Michelle Zini-Lopes has lived in the area all of her life and went to school at St Joseph’s herself.

“We are so happy because it was just so dangerous,” she said. “I’ve seen quite a few incidents with parents standing at the corner where they’ve been knocked by wing mirrors.”

She said there had been two incidents with children, neither fatal, but that it would have only been a matter of time before a child got seriously hurt.

Another parent, Kerry Defreitas, said: “We’ve been trying to get this done for years, it’s fantastic.”

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