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Join the green club; Northumbria University signs up to car club to tackle city centre congestion.

ACAR club scheme which will cut congestion in a city centre has been praised by a clean air organisation. Northumbria University has signed up to a green car club scheme that means staff can leave their own vehicles at home and use a shared car for work-related errands.

The move has been praised by the Be Air Aware campaign, which is seeking to increase awareness of the issue of poor air quality in Tyne and Wear among private car users, schoolchildren, and businesses.

It means Northumbria University employees will be able to walk, cycle or use public transport to get to work, and still have access to a car if they need to carry out errands during working hours.

Prof Peter Strike, deputy vice-chancellor of Northumbria University, said joining the car club meant there could be less traffic clogging city centre roads during rush hour.

He said: "We're really keen that our employees use sustainable transport wherever possible, and joining the car club means more staff will be able to do so.

"Staff will be able to leave their car at home and know that if they have to run an errand that requires a vehicle there is one waiting for them in the car park."

Sally Herbert, Newcastle City Council's travel plan officer, said Northumbria's involvement could cut down the number of cars being brought into the city every day.

She said: "We're thrilled that Northumbria University, one of the largest employers in the city centre, has signed up to the car club scheme.

"There's a strong feeling that people drive their car to work on the off-chance they may need to make a journey during the day. More often than not, the car is stuck on congested roads during rush hour and then clogs up a parking space during the day, without actually being used.

"With Northumbria opting into the club, we're expecting more staff to leave their cars at home and use Option C's vehicles which are parked at various depots around the city centre," she added.

Be Air Aware, an initiative helping combat poor air quality, funded by the Tyne and Wear Local Transport Plan (LTP), has called on more Newcastle businesses to sign up to the car club. Jessica Anderson, who oversees the Be Air Aware campaign on behalf of the Tyne and Wear LTP team said: "Private car use is one of the chief culprits of poor air quality and car clubs are a great solution to the problem. Businesses retain the flexibility of a private vehicle but without overheads like mileage allowances and service charges.

"Air quality benefits the most because more people have the option of leaving their car at home and getting to work via sustainable transport," she said.

The Newcastle City Council-backed car club has been in operation since June 2009. More than 10 businesses are already signed-up members.

For more information on the Option C car club and how to join, visit www.optionc.co.uk.

Be Air Aware is a campaign to get people in Tyne and Wear involved in making our air fresher. To find out more about the Be Air Aware campaign and how you can help, visit www.beairaware.org.uk.

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IN THE CLUB Prof Peter Strike Sally Herbert and Paul Balmont with one of the cars.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 17, 2009
Words:554
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