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St Paul’s Way Festival takes on Clean Air Theme

Over 1,000 people headed to the St Paul’s Way Festival on 23rdJune, which promoted a Clean Air theme as part of National Clean Air Day.

Tower Hamlets has some of the highest levels of air pollution in the country. To promote the value of clean air and explore greener and more sustainable ways of travel, part of St Paul’s Way was closed to traffic for the afternoon. The street featured:

  • Skating workshops from East London Skaters
  • Green turf and temporary planting & seating from by Public Works, founders of sustainability project R-Urban.
  • Bike repairs from Tower Hamlets Wheelers.
  • Activities and discussions on air quality issues in Poplar and Bow, led by Friends of the Earth and Reclaiming Streets.
  • Local music, spoken word performances, food, crafts and health pop-ups.

Prior to the event, air pollution levels along St Paul’s Way were tested. Results showed that the location exceeded the EU legal limits on nitrogen dioxide emissions. Reclaiming Streets said: “Residents we spoke to at the festival were rightly shocked by these results, and concerned about the safety on the road too. They were keen to discuss how we can address these issues by reducing traffic, as well as increasing greening, and walking and cycling.”

The event was supported by Tower Hamlets Council’s ‘Breathe Clean’ campaign. They recently announced a £200k air quality fund aimed at local community groups and organisations aiming to reduce air pollution in the borough.

Mayor John Biggs, who opened the festival, said: “In the same week we have marked Clean Air Day, this event showcases how getting out of our cars can reduce air pollution. We were delighted to be able to create this community space by closing the road to traffic so people can come together to enjoy themselves”.

Alex Jeremy, Head of Partnerships at Poplar HARCA, said:  “This year’s St Paul’s Way Festival was a great success and showcased how we can make our streets healthier and more enjoyable places to be. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the council and other local stakeholders to actively tackle the high levels of air pollution in Poplar and Tower Hamlets.”

The event was run by a partnership of local stakeholders, including Poplar HARCA, St Paul’s Way Trust, The Princes’ Trust, St Paul’s Way Medical Centre and local campaign groups Friends of the Earth and Reclaiming Streets.