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'Combat traffic chaos and pollution' outside Canonbury Primary School, parents plead

PUBLISHED: 17:16 18 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:34 18 July 2019

Headteacher Patrick Mildren, school business manager Tracie Gaspard-Kelchure  and parent teacher association reps outside the Canonbury Primary School gates. Picture: Susie Graves

Headteacher Patrick Mildren, school business manager Tracie Gaspard-Kelchure and parent teacher association reps outside the Canonbury Primary School gates. Picture: Susie Graves

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Canonbury Primary School is lobbying Islington Council to "combat traffic chaos and pollution" caused by Highbury Corner by widening pavements and installing fixed cycle lanes.

So far 450 people have signed a petition calling for wider walkways in Canonbury Road, cycle lanes all the way to school gates and road closures at drop-off and pick-up time.

A van collided with a child in Canonbury Road in May, and parents are fearful more accidents could occur unless the street is made safer for children walking and cycling to school. They've even submitted their own design proposal for improving safety in the street.

Campaigners argue Transport for London (TfL) and Islington Council's joint venture to open the notorious 1960s roundabout to two-way traffic in April has redirected congestion down Canonbury Road.

Parent governor Susie Graves told the Gazette: "We are falling in the crack between Islington and TfL. We know it's early days but we have had one child hit already and it's really dangerous there.

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"With all the works it feels like traffic is being forced through Canonbury Road - and nobody can explain that. It's a constant backlog outside the school.

"We know that the gases produced by these cars, which are generally delivery vans or lorries, dissipates the further you get from the road, so if we can put in wider pavements and cycle lanes it would be more effective and safer." She was allegedly told by officers it could cost about £300,000 to widen the pavement between Dixon Clarke Court, in Canonbury Lane, and the school gates.

Islington Council is already trying to implement "school streets", or equivalent measures, whereby all roads with a primary school in the borough are closed to traffic at pick-up and drop-off times. It hasn't yet done this for Canonbury Primary.

Islington's transport and environment chief Cllr Claudia Webbe told the Gazette it's the council's "aspiration" to make the changes being petitioned for, "as long as funding is in place".

"There is a conversation that needs to be had about where funding can come from," she said. "These improvements required for primary schools, they don't come without cost. But in terms of our determination and desire to bring about change, there is no barrier."

Cllr Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East), said: "I have been working with Canonbury School to get some help from TfL to provide planting to address pollution from queuing traffic. But Islington Council needs to step up too. Widening the cramped pavement outside the school would massively improve the experience of pupils walking to school and it would be brilliant to take the bike lane all the way to the school gate. Islington has the power to do this and I hope they'll get on with it.

You can view the petition here.

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