STREETS outside Swindon schools could be closed to cars if a scheme used in London is brought to the town.

The day after Public Health England called for local authorities to do more to prevent vehicles idling outside schools during pick-up and drop-off times to cut air pollution, the Adver can reveal Swindon Borough Council is looking at a car ban used in Croydon.

The School Streets scheme doesn’t block cars physically, but uses number plate recognition technology. Residents, their visitors and school staff can apply to for access to the street, but others who enter the car-free zones without permission are liable for a £130 fine.

Cabinet member for public safety Cathy Martyn said: “I spoke to a councillor from Croydon recently and they started with three streets and it’s been very successful, and they’re rolling it out to more.

“I have asked the council here to look very carefully at this to see whether it would work here.”

Coun Martyn said she is keen to see the feasibility of the scheme in Swindon, but it needs careful thought.

She said: “What wouldn’t be helpful is just to push the problem next door.

“If you restrict cars from one street, it doesn’t help anybody if people are then just driving to the edge of the zone, or the street around the corner and idling there, so we mustn’t rush into it. But if we think it would work, it’s worth looking at.”

In general Coun Martyn says the council should try and help to encourage as many children as possible to work or cycle to school.

She said: “That’s very important for many reasons. If there are fewer children being driven to school, then that’s good for the air quality at the school and much better for the residents there. But it’s also good for those children themselves. If they’re walking or cycling then they are getting more exercise and being more active and that’s good for their health as well.

“But it’s not always easy, or even possible, for parents to walk their children to school these days. They might be heading straight off to work, or taking another child to a different school.

“That’s why it’s important to try and encourage people, and make things easy for them if you can. It’s about helping people do what they can, if they can, rather than just making things impossible for them.”

An air quality management area has been declared in Kingshill Road because the weight of traffic has made its air the most polluted in Swindon.

After Croydon council restricted cars from three streets outside primary schools in 2017, another eight schools have expressed an interest in joining the School Streets scheme.