School Streets are liked by some people but heartily disliked by others. There is little evidence of real benefits while they cause problems for some residents within the area, block delivery or service vehicles and can simply cause school-run vehicles to move to nearby roads.
On the 15th July there was another attempt by a concerted political campaign of Labour and LibDem sympathisers, and supported by newly -elected Chislehurst councillors, to attack the Conservative administrations policy on School Streets in Bromley. A special “call-in” meeting of the Environment and Community Services PDS Committee was held to review the adopted policy with many questions being submitted by the public to it.
This is what Committee Chairman Councillor Will Rowlands had to say in response to one question: “The committee discussed, at some length, the matter at its meeting on June 21st. Two opposition parties have abused, in my view, the ‘call in’ procedure to have a second meeting on the subject by either misunderstanding or wilfully misrepresenting the amended recommendations by the PDS Committee, which I accepted in full. It has been further exacerbated by a politically motivated campaign to flood the agenda with 41 very similar questions again based on a false premise. These questions have taken up the valuable time of senior staff when they could be engaged in more productive work. I have referred the matter to the Constitution Working Party with a view to tightening the rules on ‘call ins’ and on questions to meetings called to do with ‘call ins”.
Comment: Clearly there is a difference of opinion on the merits of School Streets among the public and councillors. But a decision was taken and a policy adopted in the normal manner. I suggest such Streets can only be appropriate in limited circumstances, and where both immediate local residents and the wider community supports them, and there is good and specific justification on cost/benefit grounds.
Public highways need to be kept open at all times for vehicles if only to ensure that disabled people who rely on them can use the roads. The use of cameras to enforce School Streets is also to be opposed as we already have too many cameras infringing privacy and they should not be used to raise income for councils as has been happening in other London boroughs such as Lewisham, Hackney, Islington and Croydon (typically those one might classify as being “anti-car”).
It is most unfortunate that those members of the public in Bromley who support School Streets are ignoring the rules on Council meetings and hence attempting to undermine the democratic process. They are also misrepresenting the Council’s policy in that Bromley has not ruled out the use of School Streets altogether.
When an issue is contentious, it should not be decided by who shouts loudest but on rational analysis of the issues. The Council’s policy decision was not unreasonable.
To see a report on the questions posed at the Council meeting and the responses, go here: https://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=7485&x=1
From the questions posed it would seem some people believe School Streets will solve the problem of child obesity, tackle air pollution issues (if any) and reduce road casualties. There is little evidence to support any of these statements. If parents want to have healthier children they should stop feeding them junk foods, stop driving them to school and give them some education about how to stay safe.
Note: See our previous comments about School Streets in Bromley here: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/06/22/school-streets-in-bromley/
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