Town hall says East Ham rat run closure is to stay

Browning Road Bridge scheme

The closure of a rat run in East Ham is to be made permanent after toxic air levels dropped. - Credit: Jon King

A rat run’s controversial closure is to remain in force after toxic air levels dropped by up to 40 per cent. 

The pilot traffic scheme in the Browning Road Bridge area of East Ham was introduced in August 2019. It followed complaints from neighbours about drivers using their streets as rat runs between Romford Road and High Street North. 

The town hall decided to make the scheme permanent – following its own analysis – apart from an experimental traffic order in Rixsen Road Bridge which stays under review. 

Among the results, Newham’s analysis showed nitrogen dioxide (NO2) reduced 40pc south of Browning Road Bridge. 

The percentage of PM2.5 – particles considered the most dangerous to human health – dropped 39pc along the same stretch. 


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Essex School has seen a 30pc drop in NO2 and 35pc reduction in PM2.5, comparing August and September, 2019, to the same period this year. 

Cllr James Asser, cabinet member for environment, highways and sustainable transport, said: “These are impressive reductions that will have a positive impact on the health of nearby residents and school children. 

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“As we improve our sustainable transport infrastructure we will continue to make it tougher for car drivers to use our streets as a convenience to shave minutes from journey times. 

“We will continue working with residents on the north side of the bridge to introduce new measures that ensure they benefit.” 

The northern side of Browning Road Bridge in Little Ilford saw a reduction in NO2 of between 18 and 28pc outside St Winefrides, Little Ilford and Kensington schools. 

Newham temporarily halted the scheme in July, 2019, following a protest by about 80 people who urged the authority not to “burn bridges” after closing the rat run without consulting them. 

Neighbours feared drivers would use streets not included, worsening pollution and causing congestion. 

Newham reports traffic counts at Browning Road Bridge show volumes reduced by up to 62pc (3,000 vehicles per day) between 7am and 7pm.  

Counts in Romford Road show an increase of less than 750 vehicles per day, suggesting to Newham that traffic has not all been forced onto main roads. 

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