The independent London newspaper

When will we close off school streets?

12 January, 2018

Cllr Claudia Webbe

• WELL done, Councillor Claudia Webbe, for raising the charge on diesel vehicles parked in the borough.

Cllr Webbe has been consistent and clear about the serious health problems caused by diesel emissions. She’s led the way in terms of policy changes to nudge motorists away from diesel vehicles.

But air pollution is not the only health challenge that residents face. The Tribune reported that 38.4 per cent of Islington children aged 10 to 11 are overweight or obese (New bid to tackle child obesity, January 5).

Transport for London says only three in 10 children of school age reach the minimum recommended activity level. They also point out that 33 of Islington’s primary schools exceed legal levels of nitrogen dioxide.

Our neighbours are tackling this problem head on. Camden was the first London borough to close a school street, Macklin Street in Holborn, during the start and the end of the school day. But Hackney has jumped ahead. It wants to close five streets, including the popular rat-run, Westgate Street, outside London Fields primary school.

Hackney says: “These changes aim to create an environment that will encourage more walking and cycling, improve air quality and reduce emissions… This can only be achieved by reducing the dominance of the private vehicle.” This is the kind of uncompromising language we need to hear from Islington Council.

Islington’s annual transport plan, drafted in 2016, says: “[We] will investigate the potential to provide school safety zones outside two schools in Islington to reduce the number of vehicle trips and vehicle speeds, reduce exposure to air pollution, and encourage greater uptake of cycling as a safe travel choice for students, parents and staff.”

Spot on. But what has happened? Have any roads been closed? No. Have any public consultations taken place? No.

Highbury Grove, N5


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