Every day we read reports about poor air quality affecting people's health and worrying accounts of the impact it has on our children's lung development. We can all make a difference by altering lifestyles whether it's the journeys we make or heating our homes. Therefore, it is surprising that the new LibDem council administration has put aside the draft Air Quality Action Plan agreed by a cross party scrutiny committee before the election and will not be publishing a new draft plan until January and, even then, may decide to go out to further consultation.
Why the delay when there are many priority measures that could be progressed particularly around schools building on the in-depth assessments that have already been carried out on three schools in the most polluted areas of the borough. An awareness campaign and new signage to tackle pollution from engine idling was undertaken before the election and it is desperately disappointing to find that the new administration is not even planning to publish a report on enforcement until March, so it could well be another year before fines can be introduced.
Cllr Seamus Joyce Conservative, spokesman on Highways & Air Quality said, "the new administration wants to introduce tougher measures like a diesel surcharge, which we had rejected because it penalises poorer people who cannot afford to change their cars. But that is no reason not to press ahead with the improvements that our Air quality plans would have brought. The Plan included establishing a Borough wide Air Quality Action Group with representatives from local organisations and if this had been set up the new administration could have worked with them to include their suggestions. Instead this is all on hold and thoughtless drivers continue to leave their engines running outside schools and at level crossings with impunity."