Council to examine plans to close roads to vehicles during school-run times

A scheme to close streets to vehicles during school-run times could come a step closer in the autumn, councillors have heard.

“School Streets” have been introduced near schools throughout the UK, encouraging children to walk and cycle to class and discouraging parents from waiting in their cars.

Telford and Wrekin’s Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee set up a working group to look at introducing them in the borough, and chairman Angela McClements told members she hoped a report would be ready for the council’s cabinet in October.

She said highways officers from other councils and the Shrewsbury primary that became the first school in Shropshire to implement School Streets had all had advised the group.

If approved by the cabinet, officers will select locations for Telford and Wrekin’s pilot scheme.

The process began at a full session of Telford and Wrekin Council in November 2020, when Newport South and East councillor Thomas Janke proposed a motion to start consulting on introducing the initiative in the borough.

It asked the council to “work collaboratively with councillors, schools and local partners to swiftly identify schools in the borough that could benefit from a School Streets scheme”, implement them as soon as possible and promote cycling and walking around schools.

It was referred to the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee, which, the following month, set up the working group.

Councillor McClements said the working group had held “really useful” meetings with highways officers from City of Bradford Council and Solihull Council and the deputy headteacher of Shrewsbury’s Coleham Primary School.

Following a motion passed by Shropshire Council, Coleham became the county’s first School Streets school last November, closing adjacent roads to non-emergency and non-resident vehicles between 8.20am and 9.00am and 2.50pm and 3.30pm.

“I think it has been really useful, understanding exactly what School Streets means and what it would mean across the borough,” Councillor McClements said.

She said the councils had each started with a limited pilot scheme before rolling School Streets out more widely, so said Telford and Wrekin would also “take it very steady at first, just to get it right, to pick the right schools and get the headteachers on board as well”.

She told the committee: “Once that report has been put together and the recommendations put forward, we will let yourselves know and have a copy of that report and are hoping it will go to cabinet in October.”

Councillor Janke said he was “delighted with the progress”.

“I feel we have thoroughly explored the pros and cons of such a scheme in depth with welcome input from officers of other local authorities, a deputy head and West Mercia Police officers,” he said.

“What is obvious is that this is not a ‘one size fits all’ scheme, but where we can make it work I am confident it will not only improve the health and environment of the pupils attending these schools, but also demonstrably improve safety for children in the immediate vicinity.

“As far as I’m concerned, it is a win-win.”

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