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Peak-time road closures planned around some Cambs schools

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Preparations are under way for peak-time road closures around nine Cambridgeshire schools – with more schools likely to follow.

Schools across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have been offered the chance to introduce closures as part of a wider scheme of network changes by Cambridgeshire County Council in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The council said that so far nine schools have completed risk assessments and are training volunteers to introduce the measures.

Locally, Hatton Park Primary in Longstanton, St Phillips Primary in Cambridge, and Willingham Primary all plan to introduce road closures. Further afield Alconbury Primary; Barnabas Oley Primary in Great Gransden; Ely St Mary Junior; Hartford Junior in Huntingdon; Weatheralls Primary in Soham, and Wisbech St Mary Academy are also involved.

The closures, which will start in September, could involve one or more roads to create a zone for pedestrians, bikes and scooters at the beginning and end of the school day.

The scheme is being set up as part of the government’s push to encourage social distancing and more active travel.

Volunteers will put up barriers or signage. The council said access will be maintained for emergency vehicles, while essential vehicles, residents and deliveries will be marshalled through the site.

“The closure will be set up and taken down by a member of the school community each day, and will apply only while the signs and barriers are out, so will not affect weekends and school holidays,” the council said.

The changes are being enforced by a temporary traffic regulation order, which the council said will run from the start of term in September 2020 until the end of the summer term in July 2021.

Chairman of the county council’s highways and transport committee, Cllr Ian Bates, said: “By closing a section of road for a short period at the beginning and the end of the school day, we will enable people to better adhere to social distancing guidelines. These measures can also have other benefits, including encouraging active travel, improved air quality around schools and safer roads for our children.”

The move has been welcomed across the county council’s political spectrum.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, said: “Traffic outside schools has long been a major issue. These new temporary schemes will be a good opportunity to test the impact of brief road closures around school drop off and pick up times.

“We will be watching with great interest to see how these schemes work.”

The Labour spokesperson on highways and transport, Cllr Noel Kavanagh, said he was “very happy” with the scheme, adding that, in addition to enabling social distancing, it will promote active travel, reduce pollution and congestion and “it will make it safer for young people to get to and from school”.

“It will make a huge contribution to benefit the health of young people,” he said.

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