Zero Carbon Luton - January 2023
School streets, E-bikes, eco-churches and empty suitcases
Welcome back! And hello to anyone who signed up at the Luton 2040 Conference, where we had a Zero Carbon Luton stand for the first time. With Lego on it, because we like to do things properly. In this edition of your newsletter on climate action in and around the town:
The Making Cycling E-asier scheme arrives in Luton
A school street for Challney Boys
Can we get your feedback on our pilot year?
Making Cycling E-asier
Cycling UK have launched their Making Cycling E-asier project in Luton and Dunstable. Residents can now book a free skills and confidence session to get up to speed with e-bikes. E-bikes, which have a small electric motor to provide power, ride a little differently from normal bikes. It doesn’t take long to get used to them, but if you have been thinking about getting one, it’s useful to have a go beforehand.
You can also take out a free loan of an e-bike through the scheme. Loans last up to a month, giving participants plenty of time to test the e-bike on a commute or a school journey, or even for use with a small business.
Loans and skills sessions can be booked online, and the scheme is based at Evans Cycles on the White Lion retail park.
Luton is one of just four locations to benefit from this pilot stage of the Making Cycling E-asier campaign, alongside Manchester, Sheffield and Leicester.
A School Street for Challney Boys
Students at Challney Boys School are running a campaign for a ‘school street’ initiative to address traffic problems and safety concerns during school run hours. The group have already given presentations to councillors, spoken to surrounding businesses and local residents, and got support from MP Sarah Owens.
School Streets reduce traffic at peak times in order to improve safety, air quality and emissions. They typically have restrictions in place at school run hours, limiting motorised traffic through the use of cameras or bollards. Closing off the street to cars makes the street much safer, encouraging more families to walk or cycle to school. Local residents are exempt from the restrictions, and so are emergency service vehicles.
Many districts in London have implemented School Streets successfully, and they are popular in several other cities, including Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham. As the Challney students point out, there are no examples in Luton, nor in the wider region. That may soon change. Luton Council’s draft climate action plan mentions School Streets. It would also fit well within the 2040 vision to be a UN-recognised Child-Friendly Town. With the groundwork done at Challney, the students there may be the first to see the improvements.
“We worked with Challney Girls School, which is across the way, to do an assembly and propose it for their street too,” the students say of their future ambitions. “We’re hoping for a snowball effect, starting here at Challney and then to the other schools in the Chiltern Learning Trust, and eventually the whole of Luton.”
Other initiatives at the school include the Challney Green group, which brings together students across the school to coordinate green activities. Recent successes include switching from plastic to biodegradeable food containers, and campaigning with the student council for a bigger and better bike shed.
Silver award for Stopsley Baptist Church
Stopsley Baptist Church has become the town’s second silver certified eco-church, following in the footsteps of Strathmore Avenue Methodist. The church has adopted a range of new practices, including phasing out disposable coffee cups, running courses on faith and the environment, and encouraging sustainable transport choices.
The church also hosts the Stopsley Community Garden on land next to the old church hall, with regular gardening opportunities and various outdoor activities throughout the year.
The Eco-Church scheme is administrated by the Christian conservation charity A Rocha, presenting bronze, silver and gold awards as churches progress. Luton has a bronze eco-church in St John’s Methodist on Birdsfoot Lane, and a further seven churches working towards their first award.
We’d like to support more churches in Luton into the eco-church scheme, and you can check the page on our website for more detail.
Can we get your feedback?
2022 was a pilot year for Zero Carbon Luton, a chance to gauge interest and test the usefulness of a monthly newsletter. The fact that you’re reading this in 2023 should be a clue to our conclusions - but we’d like to get your feedback.
How can we make the newsletter better? Are there stories we need to be covering? What can we do to support climate action where you are?
Let us know by filling in the short survey here. Thanks!
If you’re new to the newsletter, welcome. Here are a handful of stories from last year that you missed:
Did you know Luton had the biggest geothermally heated building in Europe?
A world-first local food company avoiding food waste in the bakery industry
There has been a quiet transformation of the town’s streetlights
In other news…
Formal passenger trials have begun for the DART, Luton’s new connection between the station and the airport. Volunteers were asked to bring an empty suitcase to tow, giving staff an opportunity to test loading procedures and movements through the building. We look forward to the service opening later this year - and to more air passengers choosing to leave their cars at home.
Wandon Park, on the eastern edge of the town, has been sold for housing by the council. “A new larger park will be provided” to make up for the loss of green space. Campaigners have raised the issue of conflict of interest, as the developer is the council-owned Foxhall Homes.
It’s better to build on a car park than a green park, so to balance out the above, here are the plans for The Stage. This is the new 'gateway to the town’, to be built next to the station on the current Bute Street car park. More on this soon.
Schools can apply now to be part of the Tree Council’s Orchards for Schools scheme, with funding available for creating orchards or hedgerows. We were delighted to see that Icknield Primary and Linden Academy are already representing Luton on the map.
Right, that’s it for the first newsletter of the year. I’ll be back in a few weeks with the latest developments - including a story from your, or your community perhaps? This newsletter is for you to share what you’re up to, and inspire others. So don’t hesitate to get in touch with a story, or a question or suggestion.
In the meantime, please do forward this on to anyone who might be interested, and let’s keep building the community that will take us to zero carbon!