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Letter: Holy Trinity Junior School Parents Want Clean Air For Our School Children

Published on: 19 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 20 Jun, 2022

From: Kate Alger

Parent at Holy Trinity Junior School, Charlotteville

A group of concerned parents have come together to try to address some of the issues linked to too much traffic near our school during drop-off and pick-up times.

Clean Air Day walking bus safely arrived at Holy Trinity Junior School with the parent-designed posters in the background.

We, along with school staff at the school and many local residents, are concerned about the air pollution caused by the high volume of traffic, the increased risk of accidents for our children, the increase in noise pollution and the inconvenience of congested roads.

Clean Air Day on Thursday, June 16 was a brilliant way to bring those concerns to a head and to start to make a difference together.

We designed posters to educate people about the dangers of air pollution, to encourage a cleaner, greener, more active way to get to and from school and to encourage everyone to take part.

We worked with the University of Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) and using their citizen scientist model, we were able to start to monitor the levels of air pollution at child height around the school and local roads.

We will also monitor the air pollution levels on days where cleaner, greener modes of transport are not being actively encouraged and we’ll compare the findings.

Pupils measured the air quality outside the school gates.

We are planning to do a survey to understand what transport is currently used for drop-offs and pick-ups and to find out more about the barriers to cleaner, greener, more active ways to get to and from school.

We will then use those findings to identify ways in which we can address those barriers to help our children get to school with as little impact on the environment as possible.

The roads near Holy Trinity Junior School appeared unusually empty on Clean Air Day (Thursday June 16).

We want to expand the number of parents, children, staff and local residents working together to really make a difference to the air that we all breathe around our school. We hope that with the support of GCARE to help us interpret the data we collect, we will educate our children, ourselves and our local community and make our roads safer, cleaner and less congested for everyone who uses them.

Holy Trinity Pewley Down School [infant and junior] is supportive. Headteacher Clare Brunet said: “It’s been wonderful to see the school community getting behind the initiative and walking, cycling or scooting to school. With high air pollution in Guildford, we know that air quality at the school gate and in the playgrounds must sometimes be very poor.

“It’s a fantastic sign of a community that is determined to live out our school values, living life in all its fullness.

“Quieter, cleaner and safer roads around school would be a wonderful way to start and end the school day, every day!”

Traffic pollution: library image.


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Responses to Letter: Holy Trinity Junior School Parents Want Clean Air For Our School Children

  1. Steve Grove Reply

    June 20, 2022 at 9:18 am

    I applaud Kate Alger’s letter and the parents of Holy Trinity Junior School for wanting cleaner air around their school.

    However, parents at the school near where I live in Merrow have no concern for their children or the local residents. They come in their cars, park and obstruct driveways and, in the colder months, often leave their engines running while they sit in their cars on their phones for up to an hour before the school turns out.

    When asked if they would turn the engine off, they respond with the statement “I’m charging my phone” or “the car will get cold”. They come early of course so that they don’t have so far to walk to pick up their child.

  2. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    June 20, 2022 at 4:39 pm

    Clean air yes, surely all parents and schools want less pollution around schools and on roads leading to them.

    Walking-buses are a good idea but not all children live within walking distance of schools. Parents who have to drive their children to school could form a club, if not already doing so, and/or support mini-van runs that gather up children and deliver them back after school. Schools can and have buses that do several trips to reduce costs but obviously within about a certain radius (about two miles) of the school.

    Mini-van runs, sharing of cars together and walking buses would reduce pollution arising from school runs. However, congestion and pollution within Guildford Town centre could be reduced by setting up more Park & Ride places, better bus service and by creating alternative routes with new infrastructure. It would then be possible to incorporate safer pedestrian footways and cycle lanes on space freed-up on existing routes.

    The councils need to be more pro-active, bold and take initiative in coming up with innovative ideas. In my view they are a bit lacklustre and do little to really improving traffic flow, reduce congestion and pollution for pedestrians and cyclists.

    Investment in effective measures is long overdue but instead “modal shift” is being bandied about as the panacea in solving these issues. We know we cannot put a quart into a pint pot – it is physically impossible, so separate cycle lanes in most places could not be accommodated without improving the road network as a whole.

  3. John Lomas Reply

    June 20, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    Rule 239 of the Highway Code states “If you have to stop on the roadside: …you MUST switch off the engine, headlights and fog lights…”

    Use of the word “MUST” tells us that this is a legal requirement and they are committing a motoring offence, so take registration numbers and photos showing their engine running and shop them.

  4. Brian Holt Reply

    June 21, 2022 at 11:52 pm

    Bighas Neogi in his comment thinks his suggestions are easy, As a person who drove coaches and buses for 34 years, I do have good knowledge about the problems bus companies have. Every company in the country has always been short of drivers but now it’s even getting worse as the older drivers retire, and the young generation of today don’t want that job.

    Park & Ride buses to Spectrum were stopped because of a shortage of drivers. Larger bus companies have more problems because not only are they short of drivers but their drivers have to have rest days off and their holidays. What the public doesn’t know is the impact of driver sick leave. If three drivers go sick at the same time it means more buses are taken off the road.

    It seems the people in this area moan about buses not being on time but it’s because there are simply no drivers to drive them.

    Why do people think all bus garages in Surrey have disappeared? It’s because the lack of drivers so large depots are no longer needed.

    Also please remember bus drivers work weekends and bank holidays, and while most people enjoyed the four day Queen’s Jubilee Bank Holiday, they were working.

    So to those who say more buses are needed I say it is never going to happen. Arriva closed its bus service in Guildford because they always had a shortage of drivers. Tillingbourne buses have also closed.

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