The independent London newspaper

Air quality is a central issue

27 April, 2018

• THREE of the most polluted streets in London are in Westminster. Data from King’s College put the Strand, Marylebone Road and Oxford Street in the top 10 for NO2 air pollution, a toxic gas which is estimated to kill thousands each year and air quality is an important health and wellbeing issue across Westminster.

If Westminster Labour wins on May 3 we are determined create a cleaner, greener city with action to improve air quality central to our plans.

Westminster Labour is supporting the UK100 network’s Clean Air Commitment and is proposing a number of new measures that build on the work already done by the Mayor of London and the council to help make Westminster a better place to live.

Labour would seek to develop a fully emissions-based residents’ parking permit scheme that incentivises residents to use cleaner cars to help tackle Westminster’s air quality crisis. Such a scheme would only be introduced on a cost-neutral basis that reduces charges for less polluting vehicles.

A Labour council would work energetically to expand Westminster’s electric car charging point network to make it easier for residents to take up this technology.

Planning out dirty air to make a healthier borough will be central to Labour’s approach. We would change council planning policy to enable and actively encourage car-free developments that can both protect air quality and support house building.

Labour will work with developers to find ways to reduce emissions and carbon usage during both construction and the lifetime of buildings.

We will strongly promote the use of new technology to tackle airborne pollution and look at how adapting the physical environment, through green walls, city trees and other emissions absorbing approaches, can help tackle the problem.

We will develop planning policies that require all new major developments to show how their scheme addresses issues of air quality, building on the forward thinking approach of Labour councils like Hackney.

As previously announced Labour will take a number of steps to make it easier for our residents to cycle by providing secure cycle storage, expanding the reach of the Santander cycle hire scheme and supporting the Quietway network. We are committed to supporting car-free play streets near local schools where possible.

We back, and will expand ,existing efforts by local business and the council to increase freight consolidation and will robustly enforce measures against engine idling.

A Labour council would create an air quality champion to help lead our work in this area and air quality will be explicitly be a named part of the job for a member of a Labour council cabinet.

We will work with residents to generate new ideas for how to provide new green spaces in our city, with “pocket parks” on poorly used public land, and new community gardens.

Working with Westminster Tree Trust, a Labour council would make it easier for residents to suggest where they would like to see trees integrated into the landscape and on our streets so that we can provide thousands of new trees and plants across Westminster. Labour would also seek to expand opportunities for local allotments and community garden schemes.

Westminster already benefits from a number of world class green spaces and Labour seeks to build on this by supporting the initiative to make London the world’s first National Park City, further strengthening the connection between people and nature.

Labour will also work with the Canal and River Trust (CRT) to improve the maintenance and lighting of the Grand Union Canal to improve safety and expand public usage, forming a “green and blue spine” through North Westminster.

Improving air quality in Westminster is essential not only to make life more pleasant for people in our city but to tackle a major public health crisis.

Labour supports a range of new planning and transport measures as well as strongly backing new trees and technology to tackle the air quality crisis.

Polly Billington, director of UK100, has said: “Westminster like many other boroughs in London needs leadership on air pollution. We welcome the pledge by council candidates across the country to make clean air a priority.

“Residents want action to deal with this public health crisis. The Clean Air Commitment gives candidates the chance to show their determination to act on clean air, making it a priority and involving the public in devising solutions.

“We hope it will inspire other leaders across the political spectrum to be a force for good when it comes to finding innovative and successful ways to drive down air pollution and ensure their constituents can live a healthier life.”

For more about the UK100 Pledge see: www.uk100.org/

Leader, Westminster Labour Group


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