St Albans schools do not respond to offer of free anti-idling signs where pupils congregate

Cllr Rowlands at an anti-idling sign at St Peter’s Street, St Albans.

Cllr Rowlands at an anti-idling sign at St Peter’s Street, St Albans. - Credit: Archant

No school in St Albans responded to an offer of free anti-idling signs where their pupils congregate.

In 2017 St Albans district council (SADC) sent letters to all 39 schools and nurseries in the area asking if they would like a free sign encouraging drivers to switch off their engines when stationary.

This is part of a bid to reduce pollution in areas where children gather, as toxins in the air are especially harmful to young people. Pollution can contribute to respiratory illness, cancer and premature deaths.

However, SADC’s community, environment and sport scrutiny committee heard earlier this month that none of the schools responded.

The council is now planning to make a second engagement attempt - prioritising seven schools around the congested Peahen junction.

There are already nine notices at idling hotspots, including near Romeland Hill, Westminster Lodge coach park, the Civic Centre, several taxi ranks and Batchwood nightclub.

Cllr Anthony Rowlands, the committee’s chair, said; “There was a near unanimous feeling that the signs should be put up as a matter of urgency.

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“There is a particular problem of engine idling at schools during pick-up and drop-off times when parents sometimes sit for long periods in their car with the motor running.

“I hope that the schools will take up the offer of the signs as some have been slow to do so in the past.”

Portfolio holder for the environment at SADC, Cllr Frances Leonard, will consider the signage proposals before they are approved. After the meeting, the committee heard that air quality is now being monitored at eight new locations in St Albans district, adding to 43 locations already audited.

A St Albans School spokesperson said they have no record of receiving a letter, adding: “However, I can share that as St Albans School sits in the conservation area and our exterior wall outside our main entrance is of historical importance, we are not permitted to attach any signage to its surface.”

Other priority schools in the city centre, Aboyne Lodge School, Abbey CEVA Primary school, Abbey View Nursery and Pre-School, Alban City School, and St Peters School, were contacted for comment but either declined or failed to respond. Herts county council said it was up to individual schools to respond.