Crouch End air quality: Pollution outside of Coleridge Primary so bad lollipop lady has bought herself a gas mask

Velina Mladenova, who wears a gas mask as she helps children cross the road outside of Coleridge Pri

Velina Mladenova, who wears a gas mask as she helps children cross the road outside of Coleridge Primary School. Picture: Sam Volpe - Credit: Archant

Air pollution outside of a Crouch End primary school is so bad that the lollipop lady who helps children cross the road has bought a gas mask.

Stood on the roadside outside Coleridge Primary School each morning and evening, Velina Mladenova is on the front line of the battle – and fed up with suffering through the pollution, she bought a mask.

She told the Broadway: “I bought it a month or two ago. It’s just made a huge difference to my health.

“It’s so bad here. I wish I had done it sooner.”

On Monday evening at Haringey Civic Centre, the council voted through a motion from Crouch End’s Cllr Tammy Palmer (Lib Dem) citing air quality around Coleridge.

Haringey will now produce a report on implementing “school streets” – where cars are banned – and no-idling zones near schools.

But opposition councillors were upset this fell short of a promise to implement the measures, while parents are desperate for action, quickly.

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Parents Rachel Bailey and Susan Jones both have two children at the Crouch End Hill school and with a small group of others, they have started a campaigning group called Clean Air Coleridge.

Rachel told this newspaper: “I hadn’t really realised the problem until we joined the school. It’s horrendous, and we really want to change things.”

Headteacher Leon Choueke agreed and said the school was working “really hard” with the council on the issue. He said: “The school’s in a quite unique position split across a main road, and we want to make sure that our children aren’t impacted by the pollution.

“We want to find a way of getting a ‘green wall’, but that’s obviously expensive.”

Susan added: “We don’t want our children to be a written-off generation, we need action and we need it now. We need a green screen and we will be looking for local businesses to help.”

A green wall – in effect an evergreen hedge that would screen the school from traffic – would cost about £50,000 to install along the school’s fencing, she said.

Cllr Scott Emery (Lib Dem, Muswell Hill) said the council needed to implement no-idling zones.

He said: “We need them in in our borough and we need them as soon as possible.”

Haringey’s cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Kirsten Hearn (Lab) said: “We have agreed to develop an action plan on developing other school street schemes too. Our children’s health is a priority and we are committed to protecting them.”