Chris Young LDRS

11 primary schools taking part in a pilot scheme that will see roads closed to traffic at key parts of the day have been revealed.

The School Streets scheme involves closing roads directly outside of schools to traffic during the start and end of the school day, when children are arriving at and leaving school.

The aim of the national scheme is to improve safety and reduce pollution around schools, as well as encouraging more families to walk their children to school, rather than use the car for short journeys.

It is hoped it will end the chaotic scenes often seen on the school run, which often see cars parked dangerously on congested streets as parents look to park as close to the school gates as possible.

A Bradford Council committee will be given an update on the plans, which were announced earlier this year.

But they will also hear that a similar scheme that would see inner city streets shut to traffic to allow children to play outdoors has been put on hold due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The schools involved in the school streets programme are; Eastwood Primary in Keighley, Girlington Primary, Grove House Primary in Eccleshill, High Crags Primary in Windhill, Holycroft in Keighley, Ley Top Primary in Allerton, Newhall Park Primary in Bierley, Shipley CE Primary, St Matthews CE Primary in West Bowling, St Stephens CE Primary in Little Horton and Westminster CE Primary

Bradford Council says it picked schools that were in areas of high air pollution, and that were not on key bus routes. The project, expected to cost £70,000, is likely to start early next year.

The pilot will see roads close to these schools shut to most traffic at drop off and pick up times. Exemptions will be made for residents living near the school, local businesses, taxis and vehicles transporting disabled pupils.

A similar scheme involving 400 schools in Northern Ireland saw an increase in the numbers of pupils walking or cycling to school increased from 35% to 53%. Car use for the school run fell from 58% to 41%.

The Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee, which is meeting online tomorrow, will also hear that plans for “Play Streets” in Bradford have been paused.
Play Streets involve residential roads being closed off to traffic on certain occasions, giving families the change to play outdoors without the fear of traffic.

It had been intended to introduce such schemes in inner city areas where families have little to no access to outdoor spaces like parks or gardens.
A report to the committee says 75 per cent of residents would have to consent to such a temporary closure.

However, members will hear that the nature of these densely populated areas means such schemes are unlikely to be introduced while Bradford is under Covid restrictions.
The report says: “The original proposals for the Play Streets initiative had a focus in areas where access to appropriate space for play was limited and/or harder to reach. These are predominately densely populated areas of the district, inner city and towns, often with tightly packed housing conditions, many of which are seen as multiply deprived.

“Creating Play Streets in these sites now may not be a feasible or sensible approach bearing in mind Covid-19 infection rates and the need to support households to maintain government guidance and best practice regarding infection control. Ensuring children, particularly under five’s social distance from one another and that parents are able to do the same is quite hard to manage and opening up streets to multiple households for play purposes risks unintentionally supporting large ‘gatherings’ which is unlawful at this time.”

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, portfolio holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport on Bradford Council, said: “Many schools, families and local residents are understandably concerned by congestion, road safety and air pollution around schools at pick-up and drop-off times.
“By temporarily closing roads outside a school we believe we can create a safer, more pleasant environment for everyone’s benefit. We are excited to work with the 11 schools and see the improvements School Streets can deliver to our communities.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, portfolio holder for Healthy People and Places, said: “As a council we are committed to supporting all our residents to have better health and better lives. School Streets can encourage more families to get out of their cars and walk or cycle to school and that can help everyone get more exercise. And with fewer cars and less congestion, road safety and air quality can improve.”

St Stephen’s CE Primary School’s science leader and Year 6 teacher, Jamie Thorpe, said: “We are proud and excited to be involved in something that not only aims to help lower pollution and improve air quality, but also improve the health levels of our students and their families through encouraging healthier modes of transport to school.
“In turn, we hope that this will encourage our students and future generations to lead the way in reducing pollution and climate change, improve air quality and lead healthier and happier lives.”