Manchester schools close their streets on Clean Air Day for healthier and safer streets

  • Seven schools closed their streets as part of this year’s School Street Scheme
  • Schools wants the council to restrict parking on school streets during drop-off and pick-up times
  • Council pledges to work with schools to explore healthier and safer ways of travel

Primary schools across Manchester held street closures as part of Clean Air Day to highlight the benefits of switching off our car engines.

Seven primary schools with a total of 2,500 pupils celebrated national Clean Air Day by restricting car movement around the school gates during drop-off and pick-up times.

The temporary road closures were part of this year’s School Streets scheme and allowed parents and children to enjoy the freedom and safety of a car free zone.

Children from year one to year six held their hand made banners high and proud while chanting messages demanding for cleaner air and safer streets.

Patrick Okosun, a year six student from St Augustine’s School, said: “I feel happy that I can represent the school and think I can make a difference with my other classmates and year groups.”

The seven primary schools involved were St Augustine’s CE Primary School, St Margaret Mary, Cheetham CE Academy, Chorlton CE, Our Lady’s, Manley Park and St Paul’s CE Primary School.

Headteacher of St Augustine’s School, Ms Shah said: “We have a lot of issues with parking and some of our parents can’t get past, it’s quite dangerous.

“They (the children) want safety, they don’t want the cars parked up, then obviously the health aspect, they’ve done quite a lot of research on asthma and how that’s triggered and made worse by pollution in the air.”

The schools hope that in the near future the council can implement restrictions prohibiting parking during the school drop off and pick up times, to ensure the health and safety of the children.

Executive member for the environment, planning and transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, said: “We will continue to work with local schools, both to highlight the proven benefits of cycling and walking instead of using the car and to examine whether more regular Schools Streets can be brought forward.”

The School Street scheme is an initiative aiming to tackle air pollution, poor health and road danger by encouraging school communities to adopt healthy and active travel methods to and from school. A School street has temporary restriction on car movement during school drop off and pick up times.

The World Health Organization and the UK Government recognise air pollution as a significant environmental health risk. Air pollution causes heart and lung diseases, and it is linked to low birth weight. Figures from Public Health England illustrate long term exposure to air pollution causes up to 36, 000 deaths every year in the UK and over 100 deaths in Manchester.