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Parents could be stopped from driving children to school to curb pollution

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:17 09 April 2018

Morning rush hour traffic in Colman Road in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Morning rush hour traffic in Colman Road in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2016

A ban on traffic from outside Norwich schools at peak times of the day - to prevent children’s lungs from being damaged by pollution - could be considered.

Ben Price, Green city councillor. Pic: Archant Library.Ben Price, Green city councillor. Pic: Archant Library.

The “innovative approach”, which would mean parents could not drive children to the school gates, could be explored in the wake of concerns that exposure to polluted air does long term damage to children’s health.

It could see Norwich following the lead of other councils which have restricted traffic around schools at the start and end of the school day.

But councillors, while happy to explore the idea, have warned it would be very complicated to introduce, difficult to enforce and could be very expensive.

The idea was put forward at a meeting of Norwich City Council by Green city councillor Ben Price, who represents Thorpe Hamlet ward.

Kevin Maguire, Labour's cabinet member for safe city environment on Norwich City Council. Pic: Archant Library.Kevin Maguire, Labour's cabinet member for safe city environment on Norwich City Council. Pic: Archant Library.

Mr Price’s call for the city to explore the possibility of pollution exclusion zones, came after a national study, carried out by YouGov for environmental law organisation ClientEarth.

That showed 60pc of parents wanted traffic diverted away from school gates at the start and end of the school day, with 13pc of parents opposing such a move.

Mr Price said: “There is a growing body of evidence showing that exposure to polluted air does long-term damage to children’s health, in particular respiratory system and lung function.”

He asked Kevin Maguire, Labour’s cabinet member for safe city environment if he supported pollution exclusion zones at schools and asked him to raise the matter with the Norwich highways agency committee.

Mr Maguire said the city was committed to reducing pollution, as shown by the recent move to allow its enforcement officers to fine drivers who refuse to stop their engines idling while parked in parts of the city centre.

He said of exclusion zones: “Such zones would be very complicated to introduce, challenging to enforce and it would be essential that such a measure did not simply transfer the problem to elsewhere.

“They could also be very costly.

“However, they are an innovative approach which other local authorities are piloting and I am happy to ask Norwich highways agency committee if they would be prepared to explore pollution exclusion zones further.”

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