A CITY GP has praised the People Friendly Streets scheme, saying it has "huge potential", and that it is an "excellent initiative". 

It comes as MP for Salisbury John Glen has called for the low traffic scheme to be temporarily suspended, and for a much wider consultation process.

Dr Helen McKeown, as well as being a GP in Salisbury, was previously the cabinet member with the transport portfolio in the last Salisbury District Council, and this year observed the Citizens Climate Change Assembly on behalf of the UK as a chief officer at the British Medical Association.

She is also a member of the politically independent Transport and Health Science Group, and has a recognised interest in public health for which she was awarded an honorary membership of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians.

Salisbury Journal:


Dr McKeown says the scheme has  "huge potential" to reduce demands on the NHS, especially as "the 'baby boomer' generation will double the number of people in their eighties in 20 years' time."

She adds that we will need to be as fit as possible in order to demand less of our health and social care systems. 

She said: "The PFS can help because physical activity helps reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, mental illness and some types of cancer. There is a major obesity epidemic and the majority of the UK population are overweight or obese."

Salisbury Journal:

Climate change

Dr McKeown says the "excellent initiative" will help us to reduce our carbon footprint, to do our part to reduce global warming and improve the health and wellbeing of generations to come.

She said: "Doctors care about climate change because there is persuasive evidence demonstrating the numerous health risks posed by climate change. Addressing climate change is also considered to be an opportunity to improve global health in the 21st century due to the significant health co-benefits of low-carbon solutions."

Healthy Transport System

Dr McKeown also points towards examples of previous schemes of a similar nature working elsewhere in the past, such as Forest Gate, as well as the benefits of a "healthy transport system". 

According to Dr McKeown, the PFS does what a healthy transport policy must by:

• encouraging walking and cycling, which are healthy exercise, do not impose danger on others, and do not generate pollutants.

• reducing the dangers faced – or perceived - by pedestrians and cyclists.

• reducing pollution levels resulting from car use and seek to reduce injuries from motor traffic, which may require reduction in traffic levels and car use generally.

Salisbury Journal:


What has not been done well though, says Dr McKeown, is getting buy-in to the necessary changes, saying: "We need more education and information for everyone – the city centre car parks are open and accessible for when we need them, when we need to drive our car into Salisbury can still do so, all the city centre car parks remain open.

"Once the car is parked the stopping of motorists simply using the city centre as a ‘rat run’ means the air quality is better for everyone and it’s a safer and more pleasant place for people to walk around."

She concludes with: "PFS provides us with co-benefits by both tackling climate change and bringing with it many advantages [such as] improving our health and reducing pollution, including Salisbury’s contribution to the 15 per cent of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions.

"Relatively small amounts invested into public health, in the way PFS is doing, by getting people more active, saves many times more money in healthcare costs avoided."