'Nearly 9,500 people die each year in London because of air pollution' is the headline in the Guardian, while Time Out runs with 'Nearly every London Borough is above the legal pollution limit'.
Wandsworth Council are currently consulting on a draft air pollution strategy, and there is another public meeting scheduled for Thursday 23rd July. Note: please RSVP to this by noon on the 20th July as it will only go ahead if there is enough interest. Further details are at the bottom.
The council will not be judged its strategy documents, though, but by its actions. We need to see real improvements for local residents, as well as people who study or work in the borough.
Reduce traffic on residential streets
Most local air pollution is created by motor traffic. We feel that reducing traffic in residential streets to make walking and short-trip cycling more attractive would be an obvious improvement. Yet when petitions have gone to committee asking for different solutions to be trialled on a temporary basis, both Labour and Conservative councillors have voted to do nothing. It seems they are influenced by motorists who fear that these solutions might constrain their freedom. The result is that many residential streets, especially in Tooting, are blighted by high volumes of traffic trying to avoid the main roads. Since this traffic creates safety and flow problems when it re-enters main roads, it is far from clear whether this "rat-running" improves overall traffic flows.
Labour's poor record
Major improvements are now in the pipeline for Balham High Road, but it is only now that Tooting's Labour MP has decided to petition for improvements. What action can he and his team of councillors point to in recent years for the wards that they have been elected to represent? The 20mph rollout for Furzedown and Bedford wards is welcome, but why were Tooting and Graveney wards missed out?
You can find out more about the campaigns that your local Lib Dem team are working on here.
Further details on the proposed council's meeting on air pollution are here:
The session will include information on:
Understanding air pollution and its known health effects
What you can do to protect yourself
How the council developed the draft plan
A question and answer session.
The meeting will be on Thursday July 23 from 7.30 pm - 9.30 pm at the Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street. If you would like to go, email firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday July 20.