No idling and safer schools zones motion to cut air pollution submitted to West Berkshire Council

On Tuesday 3rd March, Cllr Erik Pattenden submitted the Safer Schools motion to investigate and pilot idle-free and safer schools zones  centred on West Berkshire schools to and give West Berkshire Council the opportunity to take positive action on health of school children, staff and neighbours, but that will benefit the wider public as well, by addressing the problems caused by air pollution.


The motion is focussed on schools because children are one of the groups most severely affected by air pollution, but people of 65 and older are also highly susceptible, as are those with respiratory conditions, like asthma and heart problems.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and Public Health England guidance ‘NICE - Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health’, NG70, published in June 2017 is the basis for the motion, covering road-traffic-related air pollution and it's links to ill health, with the aim of improving air quality to prevent a range of health conditions and deaths.

The Safer Schools Motion (No Idling Zones; 20MPH zones; Safer School Drop-off Provision) submitted by Cllr Pattenden is as follows:-

This Council notes that:

  • Our residents, staff and children, are exposed to unnecessary levels of pollutants outside of schools at peak times in the morning and afternoon;
  • Epidemiological studies show that symptoms of bronchitis in asthmatic children increase in association with long-term exposure to pollutants, as well as stunting lung growth;
  • Only a handful of schools across the country are trialling “No Vehicle Idling zones” yet they bring many health benefits;
  • Air pollution poses a serious threat to the health and development of young people:  while many of the policy interventions to rectify this problem would have to come from central Government, this Council can do more and needs to be proactive on this issue;
  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) produced new guidance in 2017 that recommended “no vehicle idling” areas in places where health-vulnerable people collect, such as outside schools, hospitals and care homes, and in areas where exposure to road-traffic-related air pollution is high;
  • According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, evidence shows that 20mph zones are an effective way of preventing injuries on the road;
  • Research estimates the chance of fatality from being hit by a car driving at 20mph at 1.5% versus 8% at 30mph;
  • There are 80 schools across the district, some of which are in 40 mph zones.

This Council resolves to:

  • Review the work done on No-Vehicle-Idling nationally in other local authorities and work this into an action plan for No-Vehicle-Idling Zones across West Berkshire;
  • Implement enforceable No-Vehicle-Idling Zones around all primary schools in the District by the end of 2021, with at least 4 pilots by Spring 2020;
  • Use the experience of the pilot zones to determine whether these measures should be implemented via enforceable enhancements to existing Council policies, or via a new by-law;
  • Work closely with schools that are part of the scheme to inform parents and carers of the No-Vehicle-Idling Zones;
  • Encourage local businesses to sponsor green walls on school buildings and tree planting near schools and the appropriate Executive Member include this in their action plan;
  • Set up a task group to review the speed limit outside each school;
  • Create a toolkit of potential actions for schools to take in order to make roads safer for children, as is most appropriate for that area, including requesting road-markings and additional lights from the Council;
  • Offer all schools the option of signing up to a Safer School Zone which will include red road markings to prevent dangerous parking and additional visits from Traffic Enforcement Officers;
  • Look at locations where appropriate additional changes could be made, such as making certain roads near schools one way.

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