Head warns new school street plan could add to air pollution
Camden want to shut off rat runs
27 February, 2021 — By Tom Foot
St Paul’s Primary School
A PRIMARY school has “considerable concerns” about a proposed road safety scheme that the council drew up to slow traffic outside its own gates.
Camden’s plan to restrict traffic in King Henry’s Road and Elsworthy Road could actually worsen air pollution for pupils, warned Clive Hale, the headteacher at St Paul’s School.
The Healthy Schools Streets project would see cars diverted away from the school during normal drop-off and pick-up times, and aims to encourage more journeys by foot.
But Mr Hale said: “We have considerable concerns about elements of the programme that will have an impact on children’s safety and air pollution. We believe the traffic restrictions on King Henry’s Road and Elsworthy Road will add to traffic on Primrose Hill Road creating more safety concerns and cause more pollution – air and noise – particularly along the school playgrounds, especially given most children access the school via Primrose Hill Road.”
He added: “Where do parents drop off children safely if they have to drive and the safest area for drop-off is part of a healthy school street which has restricted access at key times? The proposals make it harder for teachers and visitors to access the car park and the school.”
The council proposed a system of roadblocks and number plate recognition cameras in a “Low Traffic Neighbourhood” scheme for the area last summer. That plan was scrapped following complaints but the idea has been revived and rebranded as a “Healthy Schools Street” scheme.
It has now become the latest flashpoint in the Town Hall’s ongoing attempts to reorder the borough’s roadmap.
The council consultation said that the average speeds on King Henry’s Road and Elsworthy Road are above the 20mph speed limit, and that speeds in the area are “some of the highest in the borough”. There is a “safety risk” to children at St Paul’s Primary School and cyclists on the route connecting South Hampstead with Camden Town, it added.
King Henry’s Road and Elsworthy Road are known shortcuts for any driver wanting to get to Finchley Road from Primrose Hill. Camden’s
Conservative group leader, Councillor Oliver Cooper, said: “This scheme is the most bananas Camden has come up with so far. It moves traffic off the least busy roads and onto the roads with most traffic on the roads.”
Cllr Cooper added: “In addition, they want timed restrictions at small parts of Elsworthy Road outside St Paul’s to stop access in the school run hours. But they’ve got the wrong entrance.
“Elsworthy Road is the postal entrance, but the children go in through the playground. If they want to reduce speed they should have width restrictions, zebra crossings on King Henry’s Road and Primrose Hill Road to make safer crossing clearer.”
Features of the scheme include widening the pavement in Primrose Hill Road opposite the school, stopping traffic between 3-4pm and 8-9am in Elsworthy Road and banning “cut-through” traffic between King Henry’s Road and Elsworthy Road.
A council spokesperson said: “The council are proposing to make a number of changes in the King Henry’s Road area on an experimental basis to make the streets quieter, safer and healthier.
“A consultation will be open until Sunday March 21 and we are actively engaging with local residents, businesses and stakeholders about these changes and encouraging everyone in the local community to take part and have their say.”