Westminster Council has written to schools to confirm that its proposed School Streets programme, originally due to get underway in April, will now not start until after the autumn half-term.
While confirmation that Westminster will be moving ahead with School Streets in a number of locations across Westminster is welcome, after months of silence to schools and councillors about what was happening, the council’s response definitely still requires improvement.
The delay means that that children have been dealing with poor air quality and safety risks unnecessarily for an additional six months and the Council has missed an opportunity to make Westminster a better place to walk over the summer months. However Westminster have not used this extra time productively. It is deeply frustrating that there hasn’t been an opportunity for residents, parents and the wider school community to comment on the proposed school streets since the initial plans were delayed in the spring.
Labour have requested that the proposed consultation via the Council’s Active Streets website that is due to start when the schemes are implemented in November be instead got underway now so that residents and parents can know the full details of what is being proposed, can raise potential issues of concern and ideas for improvement before the schemes are initially implemented.
Westminster Council’s slouching on School Streets once again draws attention to the failure of its Conservative leadership to deliver important public realm schemes properly (in light of their Marble Arch Mound mess) and its top-down, hands off approach to resident consultation (the focus of recent criticism by Westminster’s local Amenity Societies).
Westminster Labour Group leader Cllr Adam Hug said “Westminster Council’s further foot dragging on school streets highlights the inadequate performance of the ruling Conservative administration. They have delayed the scheme from April to November with precious little consultation with anybody. They should use the time they have left to talk to residents and parents to get the schemes right and give Westminster’s children the opportunity to safely walk to school as soon as possible.
Westminster’s residents will have the opportunity to mark the Conservative’s end-of-term report come the May 2022 elections, with the opportunity to expel them if they continue to fail to make the grades.”
Image from the School Streets Initiative.