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Should there be car-free zones around Cambridge primary schools?

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Car-free zones may be trialled around primary schools in Cambridge in a bid to ease school traffic and cut air pollution.

According to a motion being put to Cambridgeshire County Council next week, parents are concerned their children are being exposed to illegal levels of damaging air pollution outside their schools, mainly from diesel vehicles.

According to Cllr Noel Kavanagh, councillor for Romsey, and the county council’s cycling champion, said: “The purpose of the no car zones are to encourage parents to leave their cars behind and have children walk and cycle to school.

“The roads outside the schools are not physically closed to traffic; instead, the councils use temporary automatic number plate recognition cameras to scan if vehicles passing through the pedestrian zones have permission.”

Local residents and their visitors are able to enter or leave the zones by applying for an advance access permit (which will be free). Motorists driving in the zones during the peak times without a valid permit receive a penalty charge notice.

The schemes are not only designed to have an impact on pollution levels, but should also reduce congestion in Cambridge.

Congestion is a major problem affecting Cambridge city. This can be particularly bad during the school term, and the motion says that, during school holidays, there is a “discernible reduction” in the volume of traffic, calculated to be by at least 15 per cent.

The motion reads: “Discouraging the school run will also boost walking and cycling levels, improve the health of children through the increase in exercising and help tackle obesity levels and improve the environment.

“The arrival at school will be a less stressful and less dangerous experience for children and parents and the residential areas where most schools are located will be less polluted.”

If the motion will be put to the full council on July 17. If it is successful, three primary schools will be the initial subjects of the trials for a period of 18 months.

If the trialling is deemed to be successful the schemes will be made permanent and extended to other schools in Cambridge city and other towns in Cambridgeshire.

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