Give people power to close streets for a few hours so children can play safely, say Kettering councillors

It's one of the first motions proposed by one of Kettering's history-making new Green councillors

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 7:00 am
Kettering Green Party councillors l-r l-r James Towns, Sarah Tubbs, Dez Dell, Emily Fedorwycz, Keiron Farrow

A group of Kettering councillors say they think residents should be able to legally close their streets to through traffic for a few hours so children can play safely outdoors.

Green and Labour representatives on Kettering Town Council are requesting North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) put a 'Play Streets policy' in place, which could see roads temporarily shut to vehicles apart from for resident and emergency access.

If the policy came into force residents could legally close off a road to through traffic for a few hours so children can play outside in their own street. Residents can still drive in and out in a controlled and safe way and access for emergency services is maintained.

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Volunteer stewards, usually residents, stand at each end of the street and walk in front of any moving vehicles to keep it safe.

Play Streets have grown in popularity since the first scheme began in Bristol in 2009, with 80 councils now pledging their support.

The motion has been proposed by Kettering Green councillor Dez Dell and seconded by Labour's Maggie Don, becoming one of the first motions to be tabled by the history-making group of Green councillors who claimed all five seats on the All Saints and Brambleside wards in May's town council elections.

Cllr Dell said: "The community spirit that flourished during lockdown could be aided to continue if this motion is passed and NNC introduce a Play Streets policy.

"I would love to see many more streets become as vibrant and neighbourly as William Street or Kingsley Avenue."

Campaigners say the policy could be used not only to allow children to play outside but also for events such as Halloween or at Christmas, when residents of Kingsley Avenue in Kettering and Hollow Wood Road in Burton Latimer put on amazing displays.

And they also say, with the Queen's Jubilee next year, it would make it easier for residents to close their roads for street parties.

Cllr James Towns said: "The Play Streets scheme provides an opportunity for children to enjoy active play and games and allow neighbours to meet, bringing communities together."

The motion will be discussed by Kettering Town Council tonight (Wednesday).

Green Party representatives will also be tabling a motion for the town council to declare an ecological emergency and ask them to write to MP Philip Hollobone support the climate and ecological emergency bill in Parliament.

The town council has already declared a climate emergency, which saw Cllr Emily Fedorowycz named as Kettering's 'climate champion', but Green councillors want them to go one step further and acknowledge the country's ecological and biodiversity crisis.

Cllr Fedorowycz said: “As Kettering's climate champion I was overjoyed to hear that Mawsley Parish Council became the first Northants council to declare a ‘climate and ecological emergency’ as put forward by Green councillor Sarah Musselwhite on Monday, July 19.

"We are hoping that Kettering can follow suit and declare an ecological emergency after the climate emergency declaration in June.”

Also set to be discussed are motions for the council to have a social media presence, and Labour motions to create a food action plan and to review the wording and signage of the Public Spaces Protection Order.