Petition to close school streets to reduce air pollution gathers support

Roads outside Sheffield schools should be closed during pick-up and drop-off times to reduce air pollution, according to supporters of a new petition.

In just over a week, Graham Turnbull’s petition to introduce the School Streets scheme to the city has gathered over 1,000 signatures.

He says that there are 25 Sheffield schools in areas of high, sometimes illegal, air pollution. The 51-year-old has two children, one of which attends Hunter’s Bar Infant School where nitrous oxide levels have reached a monthly average above the legal limit twice in recent months.

He said: “I started looking at the air quality around schools, like Nether Edge School and the school at Carterknowle, and sometimes the pollution there is higher than the legal limit.

“Actually it’s higher sometimes than the site of a school in Tinsley that they actually had to move because the air pollution was so bad.”

The School Streets scheme has already been rolled out in Edinburgh, Southwark, Hackney and Solihull, where roads around schools are closed to everyone apart from street residents and blue badge holders at the start and end of the school day.

Sheffield has already introduced anti-idling notices to encourage parents to avoid leaving their cars running while they’re outside the gates, but Graham reports that many still ignore these signs.

“Today I timed a man who left his car running for 17 minutes when there was a legal place just around the corner where he could have parked.

“I think if we all just agreed as a school community that we’re going to leave our cars 200 meters away from the school, I think it’ll be better for everyone.”

Graham hopes to present the petition to Sheffield City Council in the near future.

Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Transport and Development, confirmed that the council are already looking into implementing the policy. He said: “We need to make sure we do it in a way that is sensible and we do it with schools so it doesn’t appear out of the blue to them.

“But I’m absolutely determined we should do that. You’re right, air quality is a massive problem for a lot of our city, it especially effects the very young and the very old, so we need to something and I’m very aware that School Streets could be a big part of that solution.”

You can sign the petition to introduce School Streets to Sheffield here.