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Children demand 'Bethnal Greener' in show of support for rat run closure plans

PUBLISHED: 15:00 22 November 2019

About 60 people gathered outside Elizabeth Selby Primary School in a show of support for the council's plans to restrict traffic in neighbourhoods. Picture: Rob Andari

About 60 people gathered outside Elizabeth Selby Primary School in a show of support for the council's plans to restrict traffic in neighbourhoods. Picture: Rob Andari

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Children raised placards demanding "Make Bethnal Greener" outside an infants school in a show of support for "rat run" closure plans.

Colombia Road and Canrobert Street residents' assocations members also turned up. Picture: Rob AndariColombia Road and Canrobert Street residents' assocations members also turned up. Picture: Rob Andari

Supporters of Tower Hamlets Council's proposals to restrict vehicles staged the demonstration outside Elizabeth Selby in Old Bethnal Green Road on Sunday, November 17.

Markus Askheim, aged eight from the Winkley estate, said: "Children get most affected by pollution. I am a student at Columbia Primary and this means a lot to me."

If the proposals go ahead, vehicles would be blocked from entering parts of Bethnal Green.

Changes include cutting traffic around Arnold Circus, Columbia Road, Warner Place, Old Bethnal Green Road and Sale Street.

The gathering was organised by environmental activist, Rob Andari, with the backing of campaign group, Better Streets for Tower Hamlets. Picture: Rob AndariThe gathering was organised by environmental activist, Rob Andari, with the backing of campaign group, Better Streets for Tower Hamlets. Picture: Rob Andari

Sunday's event was organized by environmental activist Rob Andari and backed by campaign group Better Streets for Tower Hamlets.

Members of residents' associations in Columbia Road and Canrobert Street as well as Cllr Dan Tomlinson also joined in.

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Christopher Kent said: "Speeding cars have been an issue here for years and worry our community so we are all really happy the council has listened to us.

Families fill the street outside the school. Picture: Rob AndariFamilies fill the street outside the school. Picture: Rob Andari

"We are also concerned about the dangerous effect pollution has on our community, epecially children. This scheme helps address this."

Jesse Mears said: "I'm looking forward to our neighbourhood no longer being divided by dangerous roads and to walk to school safely."

Peter Airey added that after living in Bethnal Green for 10 years the changes are long overdue, making streets safer and more welcoming, reducing pollution, crime and benefiting the whole community.

Flora Wesley said: "Old Bethnal Green Road gets used as a rat run day and night. This road has so many schools and homes in it, it should be designed to serve and protect the community on the doorstep, not to provide drivers passing through using Satnav with a shortcut."

More than 8,000 cars, HGVs and lorries pass the school daily with more than 21,000 vehicles using Bethnal Green roads every day. Of these, 57 per cent are vehicles travelling through and not stopping, according to the council.

However, some householders fear the Old Bethnal Green Road barrier would split the community with car owners forced to take long detours and neighbours in quieter roads fearing drivers would use their streets instead.

Consultations on the Bethnal Green proposals are open until November 25.

Visit pclconsult.co.uk/liveablestreetsbethnalgreen/consultation/

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