Employers back schools campaign for safer redways

May 03, 2017

Around 300 schoolchildren converged on the city centre last week in a special Day of Action to call on Milton Keynes Council to support their Redways Relaunch campaign.

It proposes 50 improvements to the 270 km of redways that criss-cross Milton Keynes. The pupils were joined by staff from businesses including Santander and law firms Dentons and Shoosmiths.

The campaign is the brainchild of students at six schools; Milton Keynes Academy, St Paul’s Catholic Schools and Summerfield, Southwood, Jubilee Wood and St Monica’s Primary Schools. They are members of community group alliance Citizens:mk.

Jubilee Wood head teacher Tony Berwick and students outlined the campaign to more than 70 businesspeople at the City Breakfast Club. It aims to highlight the poor lighting, decaying infrastructure, overgrown vegetation, litter and the perceived lack of safety.

He said: “The students want to use the redways but there is a particular concern around them. They are a neglected treasure and we want the council and other stakeholders to recognise this.”

Businesses are already lending their support to the initiative. Jocelyn Kirkwood, a lawyer at Shoosmiths, said: “We are committed to being involved in our local community and to working together to achieve results that make a real sustainable difference.

"If we can help tidy and regenerate a redway near schools, that is important to us.”

The campaign surveyed around 2,000 students, 80% of whom highlighted safety concerns as the reason why they do not use the redways.

Campaign leader Josephine Osei, a 18-year-old student at Milton Keynes Academy, told the City Breakfast Club: “This is something we want to change because we want to make Milton Keynes a better place. Many of us use them to go to and from school and we want them to be cleaner and look better.

"More people will use the redways as a healthy way to get around if they are better cared for.”

Some schools have already taken their own measures, including tidying up the redways within a one-mile radius of their school.

A 11-year-old Jubilee Wood pupil told the breakfast meeting: “We are fed up with the litter, broken glass and other rubbish dumped by selfish people. We want to clear it up.”

City Breakfast Club chairman Paul Davis said the redways are “the veins of the city”. He added: “The council are pushing for more people to travel to and from work on foot or by bicycle. They must put more money into the redways.”

The Redways Relaunch campaign has also met with  The Parks Trust, which maintains the redway system.

Citizens:MK community organiser Tom Bulman called on more businesses to back the campaign. He said: “You can use your influence to help the young people with this campaign. We want this to take off and they need your support and help.” 

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