Council tests road closure tactics outside primary school as it battles to improve air quality and health

Reclaiming the street: West Meadows head teacher Daniel Wood and Coun Roy Miller enjoy the traffic free environment in West Street as pupils breakfast in an area normally thronged with cars.
Reclaiming the street: West Meadows head teacher Daniel Wood and Coun Roy Miller enjoy the traffic free environment in West Street as pupils breakfast in an area normally thronged with cars.
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A road outside a Barnsley primary school was officially closed and given over to picnic tables in an experimental move by the council which could become a regular occurrence as the authority works to promote clean air and good health.

The carriageway in West Street, outside West Meadows School in Hoyland was closed for an hour at the start of the school day with parents and carers encouraged to walk their children to school or use cycles instead of the usual ‘school run’ by car which leaves the area so congested the school has operated an unofficial ‘one way system’ for some time.

That allowed council workers and school staff to set out tables in the road to provide an outdoor breakfast for pupils as a treat for taking part in the project.

Head teacher Daniel Wood took part in a ‘walking bus’ to help guide youngsters and parents to the school of foot, while many others made the trip by bicycle.

Results of the initiative will now be evaluated by Barnsley Council, but it is hoped the tactics will be used outside other primary schools in the borough in future, where the road layout is suitable to allow temporary closures.

The council’s aim was to promote clean air, in support of the Nation Clean Air initiative, but also to encourage good health through the exercise involved in walking or cycling to and from school, both for pupils and the adults who accompany them, under a scheme called Active Travel.

Coun Roy Miller said: “We want to create a cleaner, healthier Barnsley for everyone to enjoy.

“By closing the road, we hope to see children and parents doing their bit to make Barnsley’s air cleaner.

“Moving forward, we want people to see both the health and environmental benefits and for residents to consider making Active Travel the everyday way to travel to and from school. It’s a small change that people can make to increase their fitness and the air quality in their community.”

Mr Wood said: “I am unbelievably delighted to be involved in this. It is the first in Barnsley we were asked if we were willing to help.

“The response just shows what a wonderful community we have. We don’t take the support of parents for granted and we are reaping the rewards of them working with us,” he said.