SCHOOLCHILDREN and campaigners were leading the fight for a less polluted atmosphere in Bradford yesterday, Clean Air Day.

Pupils and adults took to the streets of Shipley to highlight the polluted air they have to breathe every day.

Members of Extinction Rebellion held a peaceful protest starting outside Wycliffe CofE Primary School on Saltaire Road. They then demonstrated along the A657 to Clarence Road outside Saltaire Primary School.

Dozens of people briefly blocked the road at pedestrian crossings to make their point.

Earlier Clean Air Bradford helped pupils at Saltaire Primary School, Wycliffe Church of England School and Shipley Church of England School to launch a joint initiative to ask parents, carers and other drivers to switch off their engines when waiting in vehicles on nearby roads.

The three schools are all sited near busy roads with high or illegal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) which can cause flare-ups of asthma or symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing.

Darren Parkinson, from Clean Air Bradford, said the day proved positive with pupils handing out leaflets to members of the public and parents, some of whom turned their engines off when approached saying they did not realise the extent of the problem.

He said: “It went really well. It’s been a great day.

“We chose to work with local schools as we know that air pollution has a big impact on children, whose lungs and brains are still developing. Although running ‘no-idling’ campaigns is a good first step we need to see ambitious plans from Bradford Council on dealing with air pollution.

“We would like to see Bradford Council adopt ‘school streets’. Hackney Council, in London have rolled these out to restrict polluting traffic on roads near schools at drop-off and pick-up times. Our local schools are next to very busy roads and children walk along these roads on their way to and from school. We need to see a reduction in traffic on these roads if we are to protect the health of our children.”

Clean Air Bradford, which was inspired by the “no-idling” campaign at Myrtle Park Primary School in Bingley, received local funding to print banners and fliers for the schools to use.

Rob Whitehead, headteacher at Saltaire Primary School, said: “Asking parents and drivers around the school to switch off their engines is a simple first step in building awareness about the issue of air pollution near our schools.”

Denise, headteacher at Wycliffe Church of England School, said: “We are really hoping that the banners and fliers get the message over to our parents and carers that there is something we can all do to help solve the air pollution problem near our schools.”

Angela, headteacher at Shipley Church of England School, said: “We hope that other schools across Bradford will be inspired by our joint actions and that the council will help schools set up permanent no-idling zones around schools to protect our children’s health.”

Year 6 children in Shipley also built their own air quality monitors as part of an innovative European project. Bradford Council, University of Bradford and Well Bradford worked with SCORE (Smart Cities Open Data Re-Use) and Shipley Church of England Primary School to create technology that will show the temperature and levels of small and large particulate.

A dashboard app is in the process of being created for the school and the data will be used in schools, by local authorities and the European SCORE project to see if the information will help air quality work in other participating cities.

Bradford Council has been working on a plan to deal with illegal levels of air pollution across Bradford and has to report on the plan to the Government by the end of October 2019.