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School Streets scheme to tackle air pollution expanded in Redbridge

Fullwood Primary School is taking part in the scheme (Credit: Google Maps)

A scheme to protect children from air pollution and traffic collisions is being extended to five schools in Redbridge. 

Roads around the facilities will be shut to vehicles for an hour at the start and end of the school day as part of the local council’s Schools Streets programme. 

It is expected to encourage walking, scooting and cycling to school and has been welcomed by headteachers at the schools. 

Avanti Court Primary School, Wanstead Church School, Aldersbrook Primary School, Fullwood Primary School and Oakdale Infant and Junior Schools will all take part in the scheme in September 2021. 

A successful pilot was previously carried out at Fairlop Primary School, SS Peter and Paul’s Catholic Primary School and Gordon Primary. 

Exemptions can be obtained by residents and businesses and are also available to blue badge holders. However, vehicles entering the zone that are not exempted will be fined. 

Danvir Visvanathan, Executive Headteacher of Fullwood Primary school, said: “The risks to children walking to school will be significantly reduced as the congestion experienced at drop-off and pick-up times is of immense concern.

“Our children will also be less exposed to the harmful effects of air pollution.”

The measures have been introduced following reports 94 per cent of parents underestimate the number of deaths caused by air pollution each year. 

A report by the Royal College of Physicians in 2016 estimated air pollution contributed to the deaths of 40,000 people in the UK every year. 

North London mum Melody’s six-year-old son Eli was diagnosed with asthma shortly after starting school on a busy road. 

“Two weeks after starting school, literally out of nowhere, he had a very sudden onset asthma attack,” she said. “We were blue-lighted to hospital and had a two-night stay.

“We were really shocked but we thought maybe it was just one of those things.”

Two weeks after his first attack, Eli suffered another more serious one. 

The family was again blue-lighted to hospital and this time had to stay for four nights while Eli was given potent drugs and steroids. 

“It was horrendous, really scary, and from that, the doctor suggested he needed an inhaled steroid which he now takes two times a day,” continued Melody. 

For a year she documented Eli’s attacks and they coincided with when he was at school rather than on holiday or in lockdown. 

“I’ve got a friend whose daughter had a similar thing and when she started taking quieter routes to school she noticed an improvement,” Melody added. 

She is encouraging parents to stop driving to school if they can and to stop idling their car as it produces 150 balloons of harmful emissions every minute. 

“Air pollution is like an invisible illness, it is out of sight and out of mind, but if you lived through that experience I think it would change your life.” 

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM

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