Pollution could close chunk of school playground

Pollution levels at a primary school threatened with more traffic if road closures go ahead are already so high the Council is considering closing a section of the playground.

As pressure mounts on Hackney Council to withdraw proposals to close roads around Walford Road that would send hundreds more cars down Stoke Newington Chruch Street daily, the Council has advised on measures likely to be put forward for William Patten Primary School, one of which includes restricting playground access.

In an email to family website StokeyParents following a press inquiry an officer stated: “Based on the monitoring obtained so far and our audit of the school we provided an indication of some of the measures that would probably be proposed for the school, including:

“As a precaution restrict access to the portion of the playground adjoining Stoke Newington Church Street until air quality improves along the borough’s roads.”

They added these measures would be separate from the road closure scheme and would be recommended “whether or not the road changes went ahead.”

Sally Newsom, a parent at William Patten and a member of the school’s Cleaner Air action group, said: “It beggars belief that instead of acting to reduce playground pollution, Hackney Council in one breath is advising us it’s so bad we’ll have to close a section of the playground and, in the next breath, threatening road closures that will increase traffic and harmful emissions.

“These very young children have the right not to breathe filthy air when they’re at school – putting forward a proposal to restrict their use of the playground while at the same time heaping more traffic on them, is a clear violation of their most basic rights.

“These children haven’t been given a voice in this consultation – so we, as parents, must speak out on their behalf. We need Hackney Council to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better solution for Walford and Brighton Roads that doesn’t cause such harm.”

The Cleaner Air for William Patten group has launched a petition against the road closures: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/no-to-road-closures-that-will-increase-pollution-at-schools/

The School is also hoping the Council will agree to moving a bus stop that’s just outside the school playground in a bid to reduce pollution.

Hackney Council has been monitoring pollution in and around the school grounds. Just outside the school gates in Stoke Newington Church Street levels of Nitrogen Dioxide are at an average of 68.5 micrograms per cubic meter. The Council anticipates this being revised down to 57 when they’ve accounted for other factors. The legal EU limit is 40 micrograms per cubic meter. In other parts of the playground further away from the main road the readings are at 34 micrograms per cubic meter but some parents feel the additional traffic could tip those readings over the legal limit.

The Council claims a more appropriate limit for the playground, where the children would normally spend less than an hour playing at a time, is a short-term nitrogen dioxide reading of 200 micrograms per cubic meter. If this isn’t exceeded more than 18 times per year, they claim levels wouldn’t exceed EU limits.

A Council spokesperson added: “The proposed road closures would be unlikely to result in the exceedance of the EU limit for nitrogen dioxide”

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