Archive for December, 2016

Air Quality Campaign is Bearing Fruit

December 13, 2016

Towards the start of this year, I started doing some digging into the air quality around Northampton, and discovered that although we had several areas in the town with recognised air pollution problems, the Borough Council didn’t seem to be doing an awful lot about it.

Since then, we’ve made FOI requests, published Press Releases, asked questions of Council, carried out our own air quality testing, produced more Press Releases, we’ve been interviewed on BBC Northampton and BBC Look East. We have presented to several audiences, spoken at Council several times, attended meetings of the Scrutiny Panel and generated a front-page story in the Chronicle & Echo.

Our aim in this was to generate awareness of both the air quality issues in the town, and the Public Consultation that was taking place about the Low Emission Strategy. This strategy is now making its way through the Council’s Scrutiny process and recommendations / actions from that process will be taken back to Cabinet for approval.

I spoke at the start of last night’s meeting of the Full Council, addressing again the issue of air pollution around Northgate Station. At most of the meetings I’ve been to this year, whether I have been asking questions or addressing Council, I’ve tended to be the only person speaking about Air Quality.

At last night’s meeting, everybody wanted a piece of the action.

The Liberal Democrats had a motion asking for traffic analysis to be carried out in the town centre because the new Bus Station is obviously inadequate. Air Quality was one of their reasons, and it was mentioned a lot in the surrounding debate.

The Labour Party then proposed a motion suggesting that the Council should immediately start fining drivers who don’t switch their engines off when they are stationary. This included a contribution from the leader of the Labour Group on the council advising that “Everybody is talking about the air quality issue.”

Both of these motions were, unsurprisingly lost. The Labour one, in particular, seems a bit pointless when the overall strategy is still going through the scrutiny process.

But two things are very clear.

1 – We’ve successfully raised awareness of the air quality issue. The opposition parties are looking to make political capital of it, even if they don’t really understand the issues.

2 – There’s going to be a lot more of this over the next few months.

Steve Miller 13th December 2016