Parents fighting a traffic scheme which they claim will damage their children’s health have vowed to fight the council in the courts if it does not scrap the plan.
Hackney council wants to launch a new traffic plan which would divert vehicles from the area’s smaller streets to main roads, in a bid to relieve pressure on rat-run routes
But the plans would send more traffic past William Patten school in Stoke Newington Church Street and the families of pupils there say it will expose them to “illegal” levels of pollution.
This week parents presented a petition with more than 800 signatures to the council. Lucy Harbor, an environmental consultant with two children at the school, told councillors the road closures “would push the pollution levels at William Patten even further over the legal limit”. After the meeting, she said: “We’ll take it to the courts if we have to. It just shifts the problem elsewhere.”
Hackney council claims that in a “worst-case scenario” the plans could lead to a six per cent increase in traffic in Stoke Newington Church Street.
Ms Harbor, 38, said her seven-year-old son Leo had previously been hospitalised with breathing problems and suffered asthma attacks. She added: “There’s so many statistics out there about how pollution can affect children’s health… but when it’s happening to your children and the kids at their school and you see the number of inhalers, you realise it’s a serious problem. You’ve got a whole generation of children that could have their lungs stunted.”
On Wednesday, High Court judge Mr Justice Garnham ruled that the Government’s failure to require action from 45 local authorities with illegal levels of air pollution in their area had been unlawful.
Jenna Fansa, 38, who runs the website Stokey Mums, said: “[Children] spend six years of their life at [this] school. If during that time in the playground they are breathing dirty air, and it can stunt cognitive impairment and cause asthma and cancers, then I’m really worried about it.”
Ms Fansa, whose son goes to William Patten, said the council had promised to hold talks with campaigners, but that they would take it further if those proved unsuccessful. Another mother, Camilla Carey, 46, told how poor air quality at the school could have played a role in her 12-year-old son Nathaniel having severe asthma. She has written to Mayor Sadiq Khan about the issue.
Feryal Demirci, the council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, transport and parks, said: “Our monitoring so far indicates that air quality at the school will not exceed EU limits, but we will continue our work to find out more about the potential air quality impacts of these proposals.” She added that a decision would be made in the coming months.