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Why doesn't Newcastle have a School Streets scheme like other major cities? Liberal Democrats Councillor quizes Cabinet Member at City Council

February 5, 2021 3:11 PM

Cllr Griff KaneCllr Giff Kane asked : Last year, Ouseburn Ward Councillors were told we could have a 'school street' scheme around Hotspur Primary to reduce congestion, improve air
quality and provide a safer environment for children entering or leaving school. We have since been told that the Council cannot enforce such a scheme, so it will not go ahead.

In the meantime, the requirement for social distancing has created increased friction between drivers and parents queuing outside Hotspur, and many other schools in the City, and at least one parent has been hit by a car. Can the Cabinet member explain why cities such as Birmingham and Brighton have successfully implemented School Streets, but Newcastle can't?

Response :
Local authorities outside London do not have the powers to enforce moving
traffic violations. In May last year, the government indicated they were
preparing to enable those powers to be transferred to local authorities. On
this basis plans for a wider rollout of School Streets were considered.
This is in line with the Council endorsement of the Clean Air Plan at its
meeting in January 2020. The Business Case submitted to government
included a £1.4m bid to deliver a programme of School Streets across our
city. Government have now confirmed they will not fund this initiative. A
citywide programme, funded as part of the Clean Air Plan, would also have
enabled a communications campaign across the city to ensure people
understood the new signage and restrictions delivered across schools.
Officers of the council have identified some alternative funding to be used to
bring forward certain School Streets, when embedded in low traffic
neighbourhoods. Low traffic neighbourhoods are being developed in line
with a range of our policy commitments and changes in a part of Ouseburn
ward, including a School Street around Hotspur school, will be published
later in February.
In relation to the delivery of a School Street in this area, Councillors were
told that given the local authority did not have the requisite enforcement
powers that they would work on alternatives. Officers have been in
discussions with colleagues at Northumbria Police to ensure enforcement
activities are programmed to take place at a number of schools. This will
ensure that we have taken action to ensure the safety of schoolchildren will
not be compromised. It is also in line with the process both Birmingham and
Brighton have used to launch trials of a small number of School Streets
before rolling out the approach more widely.
School Streets are an important part of the future development of the city
and how we act to address the climate emergency and embed active and
sustainable travel behaviour. The fact that government is yet to provide a
level playing field by providing authorities in London with powers to
implement such measures more comprehensively, is something we will
continue to challenge.