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Editor’s comment: Protest about air quality outside William Patten Primary School could jeopardise vital scheme

PUBLISHED: 15:00 31 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:13 01 February 2018

Parents of William Patten School had their say on the consultation on Monday night. Picture: Mete Coban

Parents of William Patten School had their say on the consultation on Monday night. Picture: Mete Coban

Archant

Well done to the schoolchildren whose protest over driving in Stamford Hill has spurred the council into action.

Holmleigh Primary School and Sir Thomas Abney Primary School pupils and parents with Cllr Rosemary Sales. Picture: MARIA JEFFRISHolmleigh Primary School and Sir Thomas Abney Primary School pupils and parents with Cllr Rosemary Sales. Picture: MARIA JEFFRIS

It is extremely encouraging to see Hackney’s future parents, workers, taxpayers and community leaders speaking out where they want change and, hopefully, seeing their actions rewarded. It is a powerful message to send the next generation that they can make a difference.

There is another row over streets and schools brewing in the north of the borough but this one is over air quality – something that affects us all, but young people more than anyone else because they will have to live (and die) with it for longer.

I am sure the parents and teachers opposing the council’s latest round of road closures have good intentions when they say air quality could get worse outside William Patten.

But I worry that their objections could end up derailing a project whose explicit aim is actually to improve air quality for the borough.

They are unconvinced, as is their prerogative, by the council’s belief that the air outside the school will get cleaner regardless of the closures because of other factors involving changes to bus services. And it is absolutely right that children should learn about protest and be empowered to stand up for themselves.

But no one wins if the road closures scheme is scrapped. On the contrary, the council should work with parents and teachers to expand the scheme, and ones like it, to achieve an improvement in the air across the whole borough.

The fact is that shutting down traffic reduction schemes would send a false message to children: that the status quo isn’t silently killing us. It is.

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