Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Air pollution is killing Lambeth residents, but the Council will not act

If there were a series of local murders or even fatal road deaths there would quite rightly be public outcry.  Resources would be thrown at dealing with it – whether it be to track down a killer or redesign a dangerous stretch of road.

There is another silent killer in Lambeth responsible for around ten times the number of deaths caused by violence or traffic collisions. But not only is little being done to stop it, the Council is trying to cover it up.

In April, Public Health England estimated there were 112 deaths in one year in Lambeth linked to air pollution.  The victims tend to be those who are most vulnerable – the old, the young, and those with lung and heart conditions.  But when the Green Party proposed a motion calling on the council to deal with it, Labour councillors removed all reference to the deaths.  Not only that, they also tried to pretend it wasn’t their responsibility to protect local people.

There are some very basic things the Council should do.  It could lobby the London Mayor for more low emission buses on routes through Lambeth. It could stop incinerating the borough’s waste. It could create ultra low emission zones and more green and pedestrian areas.   

But it refuses even to put small, cheap air pollution monitors outside local schools as other boroughs have sensibly done.  That would at least indicate how much pollution our children are being exposed to on a daily basis. It would at least enable schools to make better decisions about how to protect those in their care.

Its time for the Council to stop blaming others for problems it could address itself.  Until it does, with every new edition of the Lambeth Weekender, we should remember that another four Lambeth residents will have died because of local air pollution.  

First published by Councillor Scott Ainslie as an article in the Lambeth Weekender, 31st July 2014. 

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