Telford and Wrekin Council has been urged by local Lib Dems to adopt car free zones outside schools. The motion, tabled at Thursday's full council meeting by Newport Councillor Thomas Janke, proposed adopting a "School Streets" scheme in common with many other local authorities, including Shropshire Council.
Councillor Janke outlined the benefits of restricting motor traffic at "school run" times for pupils' road safety and health, as well as helping to address climate change.
"The arguments in favour of implementing 'School Streets' are overwhelmingly positive," Cllr Janke told the Council meeting. "Healthier more alert school children, a demonstrably safer environment on the school run and of course the added benefit of reducing carbon emissions."
The scheme involves closing roads close to schools to motor traffic at drop-off and pick-up times, with exemptions for residents accessing property, and for disability blue badge holders. Parents needing to drive would be able to park in nearby areas and walk the final few minutes. Highly successful schemes have been rolled out by several local authorities including Solihull and Bristol.
Cllr Janke acknowledged that School Streets would not work at all schools, but highlighted support for proposals by several headteachers in Newport and William Reynolds Primary School in Woodside, for example. He emphasised that a full assessment and local consultation would be required for each school.
A recent study by Edinburgh Napier University shows that School Streets could increase the number of children walking and cycling to school without simply moving road safety issues to neighbouring streets.
YouGov polling for Greenpeace indicated increasing support for measures to reduce traffic, with 26% of people strongly supporting Lower Traffic Neighbourhoods, whilst 31% "tend to" support them and only 8% strongly opposed.
The motion was referred by the chair to the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee for consideration on Wednesday 16th December. Cllr Janke welcomed this move as an opportunity for the proposals to receive cross-party consideration.
"We must strike whilst the iron is hot," emphasised Cllr Janke. "And show our residents that we are not afraid to take the bold steps necessary to ensure the safety of our children and better the air quality surrounding them.
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