Sandy responds to Labour’s air quality proposals and calls for bolder action

24 June 2019
The Mayor’s speech on national Clean Air Day (20th June) is welcomed as a sign that Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees has finally realised people care about environmental issues and that these should be given weight alongside the social problems we face as a city. However, I think what he has not yet appreciated, is that many of the solutions to our environmental problems are also solutions to our social problems.

Improving the quality of our environment is not rocket science: prioritising public transport, cycling and walking simply takes the courage to allocate road space to these forms of transport. Experience from cities in Europe and the UK shows that when we do, not only do we improve the quality of our air and reduce our emissions but the benefits could be felt by all people in Bristol – reducing inequality by ensuring everyone can get to work, ensuring all our young people can get to college and those who are more isolated by disability or age can feel a part of their communities.

And whilst the Mayor spoke about his future ambitions his actions speak louder than his words.  He has avoided tackling the problem of Bristol’s filthy air for well over a year despite legal threats from Central Government.  The likely improvements to our health and our communities were barely mentioned in the recent air quality improvement proposals. Instead, the public will be asked to comment on options that the Council Head of Paid Service says may not even be legally compliant.

In contrast the Greens have committed to investing £6.5 million each year into improving our public transport on top of the West Of England Regional Authority and funding from central government. By investing in our infrastructure we can make buses cheaper and more reliable, we can make cycling safer, and walking more pleasant.

Bristol used to lead the way in tackling these problems but more forward thinking cities like Birmingham and Edinburgh (both with Labour-run councils) have leaped ahead and are reaping the benefits in equality, clean air, thriving business and more liveable cities. If Bristol takes bold action now we could lead again and make the difference to all of our lives.

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