School Streets meeting raises hundreds of questions

Five schools are taking part in the School Streets scheme which begins next month. Picture: Be First

A virtual public briefing on the expansion of the School Streets scheme raised hundreds of questions from concerned residents. - Credit: Be First

Redbridge Council has tried to address the concerns of residents about how the expansion of the School Streets scheme would work.

An online meeting on Wednesday, February 10, heard the objectives of the scheme are to reduce air pollution levels around 10 additional schools, help protect children from traffic at the school gate and encourage more children to walk and cycle to school.

Once launched, vehicles will be restricted from entering the designated zones at the schools' start and finish times during term time only, or they will be receive a £130 fine. 

Wanstead Village Labour candidate Jo Blackman. Photo: Jo Blackman

Cllr Jo Blackman said we need to act now to protect our children's health and safety but would consider the strength of local opinion. - Credit: Jo Blackman

The council has said there will be exemptions for residents' carers and people with restricted mobility. And it will speak to local businesses like pharmacists that do regular deliveries in the area, to give them an exemption. 

A number of residents who live just outside the restricted zone raised questions about how traffic might be displaced.

Cllr Jo Blackman, cabinet member for environment and civic pride, acknowledged there will naturally be some people who will still need to park their car outside the zone to drop their children off, but said it should be a fraction of the number of people who would drive otherwise.  

She cited a report from Edinburgh Napier University which reviewed school street schemes in the UK and Europe and found that "in almost all cases the total number of motor vehicles across school (streets) closures and neighbouring streets reduces".

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She said: "We must act in the best interests of our children, and do everything we can to make our streets safer and healthier."

School runs during peak times account for a quarter of all traffic in the borough and 24pc of Year 6 children in Redbridge are obese.

A number of residents were frustrated that it wasn't an open forum where all residents were able to ask questions, instead of a moderator selecting the most popular ones from the nearly 400 questions submitted.

Clayhall resident Rakesh Makwana felt that not enough residents' concerns were addressed and said: "It was more of a briefing than a consultation."

Following the consultation where the scheme is implemented there will be an experimental traffic order for the first six months - so that schools can submit feedback and only after that process can it be made permanent.

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