Cllr Sirajul Islam, Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group and Cllr Asma Begum, Ward Councillor for Bow West and Shadow Cabinet Member for the Environment and the Climate Emergency have today written to the Mayor of Tower Hamlets to demand he listen to the local community and reverse his decision to close the school street at Chisenhale Primary School in Bow West.

In addition to this, Cllr Asma Begum and Cllr Amy Lee, Shadow Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing are also proposing a motion to save the school street at Chisenhale Primary School at a meeting of Tower Hamlets Council tomorrow. A copy of the motion can be found at the Tower Hamlets Council website: LONDON BOROUGH OF TOWER HAMLETS

The letter notes that Mayor Rahman’s own Air Quality Plan Action Plan for 2022-27 states that reducing pollution in and around schools, and extending school audits to other schools in polluted areas is a priority for the administration. However, the administration’s recent actions contradict this important aim.

The letter also states that the scheme at Chisenhale Primary School was put in place after a thorough consultation and a local campaign headed by parents, teachers and young people in the area in order to prevent excess car pollution and keep the local schoolchildren and residents safe.

There have been several unsuccessful attempts by the Mayor to rip out the school street and play area but this has been prevented thanks to the efforts of local schoolchildren who have been waiting at the barricades of the structures.

 

Shadow Cabinet Member for the Environment and the Climate Emergency and Ward Councillor for Bow West, Cllr Asma Begum, said:

“Keeping our children safe against toxic pollution is a shared priority amongst us all. The current Mayor’s own Air Quality Action Plan that was approved at his Cabinet stated that reducing pollution in and around schools is needed. The subsequent decision to rip out this school street in Chisenhale Primary School with no consultation with the local community is confusing as it is disgraceful.

“I call on the Mayor to support my motion and reverse its removal without delay. Our residents deserve better.”

 

Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam said:

“Mayor Rahman needs to start listening to his residents and the facts, and start protecting the health of our borough’s children. His ‘one size fits all’ narrative about ‘opening all of our streets’ without effective consultation does not work and is a dangerous strategy.

“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.”

 

Full Text of the Letter to the Mayor of Tower Hamlets

Dear Mayor Rahman,

We are writing on behalf of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group regarding your decision to remove the hugely popular School Street at Chisenhale Primary School in Bow West, and to request you reverse this decision as soon as possible for the benefit of the local community.

As you will know, air pollution is one of the biggest crises facing our borough and measures need to be taken to protect the health of our children. Your own Air Quality Plan Action Plan for 2022-27 states that reducing pollution in and around schools, and extending school audits to other schools in polluted areas is a priority for the administration. However, your recent actions completely contradict this important aim.

The previous Labour administration introduced 26 School Streets across the borough, an initiative to improve air quality for children by reducing car traffic around schools. This policy was largely successful, resulting in a 30% reduction in pollution near schools and there are now 547 School Streets across nearly every London borough.

After a thorough consultation and a local campaign headed by parents, teachers and young people in the area, a School Street was installed at Chisenhale Primary School in order to prevent excess car pollution and keep the local schoolchildren and residents safe.

While we understand residents’ concerns in other parts of the borough about the low traffic neighbourhoods, this scheme was strongly supported by the local community. Your approach to this issue should be effective consultation with the communities on a scheme-by-scheme basis – not on a misjudged ‘one size fits all’ narrative.

We know unsuccessful attempts have been made to rip out the school streets and play area but have been prevented thanks to the valiant efforts of the local children at the barricades of the structures.

We call on you and your administration to support the Labour Group motion that we are proposing at a meeting of the Full Council this evening and immediately reverse your decision to close the School Street at Chisenhale Primary School, and that you hold a public meeting with parents, local residents, teachers, Ward Councillors and school children to address their concerns and discuss potential alternatives.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Cllr Sirajul Islam

Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group

Cllr Asma Begum

Shadow Cabinet Member for the Environment and the Climate Emergency and Ward Councillor for Bow West

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