Hackney 'leading way in tackling pollution' - Sadiq Khan says

Sadiq Khan, with councillors and delegates, meets Gayhurst Community School's student council

Sadiq Khan, with councillors and delegates, meets Gayhurst Community School's student council - Credit: William Mata

Hackney’s efforts to tackle pollution are an example for other boroughs to follow, Sadiq Khan has said on a visit. 

The mayor of London was in town this morning to present a TfL Gold Star certificate to Gayhurst Community School to celebrate its school street programme. 

The primary was one of the early adopters of the scheme, which prohibits parking on immediate roads at drop off and pick up times to cap local pollution levels. 

“London leads the way across the world, but Hackney leads the way across London,” Mr Khan told the Gazette at the visit on Thursday (March 10). 

“Look at the numbers of school streets here, look at the numbers of safe cycling areas, the number of LTNs… the reality is the quality of air improves as congestion reduces. 

“It is helping fight climate change and roads are safer as well.” 

Alongside Hackney mayor Phil Glanville and London’s walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman, Mr Khan spoke to teachers and pupils. 

Sadiq Khan inspects Gayhurst Community School's low pollution scheme on a visit to Hackney

Sadiq Khan inspects Gayhurst Community School's low pollution scheme on a visit to Hackney - Credit: William Mata

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Gayhurst has seen a 10 per cent drop in the number of children being driven to school since joining the programme – from 17pc in 2005 to 7pc today.  

Mr Khan continued: “When I hear a Year 3 child tell me her passion for walking and cycling, and explaining to me the benefits to her mental health, it is a source of pride to me and I am sure for the school.

“The 21st century citizens understand the importance of recycling and tackling climate change, reducing air pollution, and also the knock on benefits for the local economy.”

He added: “One of the things that upsets me is when I speak to Londoners and they tell me climate change is an issue that happens in sub Saharan Africa. They can think it is an issue to worry about in 20-30 years’ time. 

“It is clear from peoples’ attitudes in Hackney that climate change is something we need to be addressing now. 

“In London, every year there are 4,000 premature deaths due to air pollution. There are children with damaged lungs due to air pollution, and have issues such as asthma and diseases. 

“Hackney is leading the way and gives others a template to follow but also shows we can make change.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London - Credit: William Mata

Gayhurst borders a low traffic neighbourhood (LTN), a scheme which stops through traffic from using residential streets as a rat run. 

Mr Khan gave his backing to the schemes, introduced by Hackney Council, which have proved divisive locally. 

Councillor Mete Coban, also present at the ceremony, countered local criticism that the school street figures were only impressive as the scheme was introduced during the pandemic - a time when car travel was restricted. 

“When you look at what we have been doing, we have been serving children and how they go to and from school,” he said. “From before we introduced the scheme to after, what we have seen is some of that longer term behavioural change.” 

When eight school streets were piloted in Hackney, Gayhurst was the second put in place. Since then the council has “rapidly accelerated plans to do more and more” - and has now implemented more than 40.

“It’s brilliant to welcome the mayor to Hackney,” Cllr Coban added. “We are leading the country for school streets and across London we have more than 500. 

“The impact the school streets are having cannot be understated. The mayor has met so many children and parents this morning, who have massively benefitted from the programme. 

“We have seen the emissions outside the school gates drop by 74pc and 30pc more children walking to school. There has been a 50pc rise in children cycling or scooting to school as well. 

“It is a fantastic achievement.”