The journey to and from school is set to become a whole lot healthier thanks to a bold scheme being launched by Redbridge Council.
The new initiative will see roads leading to St Peter and St Paul’s Catholic Primary School and Gordon Primary school in Ilford closed to traffic at the start and end of the school day.
The scheme to protect children from air pollution and traffic during their journey will be launched during the Summer term.
Sue Johnson, Headteacher of Saints Peter and Paul’s Catholic Primary School said: “SSPP are very excited to be involved in this project, we care about the environment and the health of our children. We are hopeful this initiative will allow the children to ride their bikes to school safely and breath cleaner air. The roads will certainly be much safer outside the school. It’s a winning solution all round for the children.”
Part of the “Redbridge Schools Clean Air Zones” pilot programme, signs will notify drivers that the roads surrounding the school can only be accessed by cyclists and pedestrians at the displayed times, unless vehicles receive an exemption.
Exemptions will apply to residents and business in the zone and blue badge holders requiring access.
Vehicles that are not exempted and enter the closed street during the peak times will be identified by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras and issued a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).
Council Leader Cllr Jas Athwal said: “We have a duty to protect our children’s health, both as a council and also as part of the community ourselves. Targeting congested areas outside of schools will cut down on pollution caused by traffic and also make roads much safer for children. We know that air quality is a top concern for parents and that’s why we’re working on initiatives such as this to build a cleaner and safer environment for our residents and mitigate the impact pollution has on local young people.”
Cllr John Howard, Cabinet Member for Civic Pride, said: “London’s toxic air is having a hugely detrimental effect on the lungs of children and young people. This is an important project that will enable us to tackle air pollution by cutting down on congestion during the school run and encourage pupils and parents to walk and cycle. The programme will also create safer roads for children travelling to and from school. We are committed to improving air quality in the borough and the new traffic restrictions outside these school entrances will contribute towards this.”
The announcement of this scheme follows the recent news that the council, along with the Mayor of London, will be funding schemes at William Torbitt Primary School and Oakdale Junior School to reduce air pollution by installing air purifiers in classrooms to help protect against exposure to transport related air pollution.
The road closures will be complemented by the council’s established programme of active and sustainable transport initiatives through the School Travel Planning process.
Schools receive a wide range of support for schemes that improve air quality, active travel and road safety e.g. cycle training, pedestrian skills training, and behaviour change activities.
These encourage pupils and their parents to walk, cycle and scoot to school, rather than being driven. More than 70 per cent of Redbridge school-aged children live within one mile of their school, based on pupil postcode at point of school registration (2018).
There will be a six-week consultation on the “Redbridge Schools Clean Air Zones” commencing this month where members of the public can share their views.
Letters will be sent to parents, residents and businesses in the area asking for their views and the consultation will also be available online.