Tower Hamlets Labour has called on the Mayor of Tower Hamlets to reverse his decision to remove the School Street at Chisenhale Primary School in Bow West, which goes against the wishes of the local community and the Aspire administration’s own commitment to improve air quality in the borough.
Tower Hamlets has one of the highest levels of motor vehicle traffic in the country, partly due to vehicles travelling through the borough, and the average lung capacity of a child in Tower Hamlets is up to 10 per cent less than the national average. This is supported by a report on air quality that was noted at the Mayor’s Cabinet meeting this week which stated that, ‘studies, including one carried out in Tower Hamlets, show that children’s health is being negatively affected living in highly polluted areas. Children in Tower Hamlets have reduced lung function, which they may never recover.’
The previous Labour administration developed School Streets, an initiative to improve air quality for children by reducing car traffic around schools. The aim of the programme was to identify improvements such as removing areas where idling cars congregate and reducing traffic levels near schools significantly, making local children feel both healthier and safer. This policy was largely successful and resulted in a 30% reduction in pollution near schools.
The previous Labour administration initially put the School Street at Chisenhale Primary School after a thorough consultation with young people in the area, parents and local residents. Although the scheme has proved successful locally, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets has announced that the Council is to remove the School Streets today.
Shadow Cabinet Member for the Environment and the Climate Emergency and Ward Councillor for Bow West, Cllr Asma Begum said:
“Air pollution is one of the biggest crises facing our borough, and measures need to be taken to protect the health of our children. The last Labour administration delivered a School Street at Chisenhale School to prevent excess car pollution after a campaign from parents, teachers and young people.
“It is a disgrace it will be ripped out with no consultation with the local community and young people. I call on the Mayor to reverse its removal without delay. Our residents and children deserve better.”
Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam said:
“This is yet another example of Mayor Rahman ignoring the local residents to push through his ‘one size fits all’ narrative about ‘opening all of our streets’ without effective consultation.
“We must do more to improve air quality in the borough, and the Labour Group implores the Mayor to look at each scheme on a case by case basis to see what works and what does not. Community engagement is key.”