Pollution, slur on NHS, local football and drink sensibly

Redbridge roundabout.

Redbridge roundabout is a pollution hotspot according to a worried Redbridge parent - Credit: Ken Mears

Chance to reduce invisible killer

A worried parent from Redbridge, full name and address supplied, writes:

It was after watching a disturbing Channel 4 Dispatches that the truth about our city’s toxic air really hit home.

In the programme, scientists took X-rays of the lungs of primary school children and found not just pollution damage but actual tiny particles of car tyre.

Brain scans also revealed that children living in areas with high pollution “reacted more slowly in tests involving memory, concentration and reaction time”.

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And of course there are countless other health issues related to pollution. 

Although Wanstead isn’t inner city, we are surrounded on all sides by busy A roads and congested roundabouts, including Redbridge roundabout, a pollution hotspot with illegally high levels of poisonous nitrogen dioxide.

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It was also revealed in the programme that short bursts of high pollution, such as waiting at bus stops, Tube tunnels, traffic jams and school rush hour, are of grave concern, particularly as they are difficult to monitor due to their fleeting nature. And that children are most at risk due to their smaller height and proximity to exhaust fumes.

So I was greatly relieved to hear that School Streets, the scheme that closes roads nearest to schools at drop-off and pick-up times, would be trialled at Wanstead primary schools. Anything that protects the fragile, still-developing organs of our children gets a big tick from me.

The other proven benefit of School Streets is the improvement in road safety. Deterring people from using back streets as rat-runs, and generally keeping cars away from school entrances at rush hour means children are much better protected from accidents.

There’s not much we can do on a local level about the A roads (although the expanded ULEZ coming in October might address this) but we can at least reduce this invisible killer from the streets near our schools.

Make voice heard on cleaner air

Cllr Paul Donovan, Dangan Road, Wanstead, writes:

Air pollution kills more than 50,000 people in the UK each year, 9,500 in London alone.
We cannot afford not to act when faced with mounting evidence of the impact of air pollution on children and vulnerable people. Not to mention the impact on the global climate of emissions from vehicles.

Redbridge Council is currently consulting on 10 School Street schemes, after a successful pilot.

These schemes aim to reduce air pollution around our schools, help protect children from traffic at the school gate and encourage more children to walk and cycle to school by restricting vehicles on non-essential journeys from entering the zone at school drop off and pick ups.

We need to support initiatives that protect our most vulnerable residents from the damaging impact of air pollution and congestion. We cannot continue to poison the air that our children breath.

Anyone who wants cleaner air and safer streets should make their voices heard by ensuring they participate in the consultation here 

Many of the concerns about the impact on residents are not borne out by experience of the existing schemes – deliveries continue as delivery drivers are used to negotiating traffic restrictions.

Residents and businesses within the zone are entitled to exemptions. Any minor inconvenience is surely outweighed by the benefits to children’s health and safety.
The consultation ends on February 14. There’s more info including FAQs here: redbridge.gov.uk/roads-and-pavement/redbridge-school-streets/

Councillor’s slur on the NHS

Keith Stanbury, chair, Goodmayes Residents Association (GRASS), writes:

The letter, published last week by (Cllr) Paul Donovan of Wanstead, is likely to cause concerns to all Redbridge residents, not least those who believe that the combined political parties in the government have agreed to a consensus approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

As an elected councillor, is Paul Donovan speaking on behalf of the Redbridge Labour Party? Do they agree with his opening comment: that this country’s response to the pandemic is “atrocious”? 

Will his voters in Wanstead Village ward support him in this slur on those in the NHS, public services, care homes, local authorities, emergency services? 

Or should the Redbridge Labour Party/leader immediately suspend him from all public duties in their name? His letter provides a significant opportunity for Labour’s political opponents to question the aims and objectives that he demands.

He has made a mockery of this local administration.

How about small cup tournament?

The ban on football during the periods of Alert has now been removed and play will now go on except

There was a ban on football during high-alert periods in WWII and a spotter was used during other times - Credit: PA

Rob Meyers, Ashurst Drive, Barkingside, writes: 

With the second consecutive season of local league football looking increasingly likely to be cancelled, maybe playing much smaller “cup” matches could pave the way for Essex’s football return – when it’s safe to do.

Bringing back notable Essex cup competitions, or even smaller trophy games, of just a handful of local teams may be far more manageable than a full league season.
It could be a way to keep players fit, as well as giving them a cup to try and win.

If restrictions are lifted further by the government and a small amount of spectators are allowed to attend, then this to would give a much-needed boost for clubs’ revenue.

During the Second World War wasn’t there The War Cup when there was no league football being played?

Start of healthier drinking habits

Dr Richard Piper - chief executive, Alcohol Change UK (the charity behind Dry January), writes: 

Back in December we estimated that 6.5 million people would be taking part in Dry January - then on January 4 the third national lockdown was announced, and we began to see people saying that Dry January was “cancelled”.

What we saw was a surge in people downloading the official app, Try Dry. Downloads this year have been a huge 35 per cent higher than last. 

Research has shown that seven in 10 people who do Dry January with our support are still drinking less six months later. So whether you used Dry January to bust lockdown drinking habits, kickstart cutting down, or test out going alcohol-free longer-term, February 1 isn’t the end – it’s the start of healthier, happier drinking habits year-round.

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