'Urgent need' – Calls to ban cars from Bridgnorth's town centre in effort to tackle pollution
Pedestrianising the streets of Bridgnorth could be the most effective way of ridding the town's pollution hotspot status, say Green Party members.
Calls to ban cars from the High Street follow the granting of more than £50,000 worth of funding to Shropshire Council earmarked for improving air quality in Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury.
The £53,300 Government grant is set to be used for a project to develop an air pollution map of Bridgnorth and test low-cost air quality monitors. Now politicians say cars should be banned from the town centre in a bid to improve air quality.
Hilary Wendt, coordinator of South Shropshire Green Party, said there was an ‘urgent need’ for action on the matter.
"We called on Shropshire Council to tackle pollution in Bridgnorth in 2017," she said.
"We're glad to see them making progress but the issue is that the money is being used to measure a problem we already know exists, not to solve it.
"I think pedestrianisation would be an excellent idea for Bridgnorth.
"Areas that do this create a more comfortable environment for people to walk and cycle, encouraging families to come out and support retail which helps our small businesses that are under a lot of pressure and rely on high footfall. The solution is simple, make options available so people don't use their cars, whether this be through pedestrianising parts of the town or improving public transport."
Shropshire Councillor for Shrewsbury Porthill, Julian Dean, grew up in Bridgnorth and said the focus should be on reducing the number of cars driving through the town.
"I'm always in favour of pedestrianisation," he said.
"I think it's a great way to keep cars out of the town as well as keeping people healthy."
Bridgnorth councillor Julia Buckley, who represents East ward, said the topic has been rife within the council for a while and radical approaches to pedestrianisation had been considered.
"We have two or three hotspots around the town and the town council have discussed it with Shropshire Council on a number of occasions," she said.
"Different solutions have been considered, including more one way streets or changing points of access – a more radical approach of pedestrianising parts has also been suggested which is known to have worked in some places."
John Whitelegg, of South Shropshire Green Party added: "Making pedestrian only zones creates a totally different atmosphere, as does 20mph streets as part of the 20 is Plenty campaign.
"These things would be at the top of my list of things we know work in reducing pollution, they're very important and there is now the opportunity to do vast amounts of pedestrianisation in Bridgnorth.
"We have traffic engineers in Shropshire Council that have a good idea of whether certain things can be implemented so no one is saying rush into them without consultation with residents, councillors and businesses."