Medway Liberal Democrats respond to a report on Chatham's air quality
By Medway Liberal Democrats - Alan Wells
The news that a report names Chatham as one of the worst areas in the country for air quality, is very disturbing.
The report states that one in 16 deaths in Chatham "are exclusively driven by combustion in commercial, institutional, and domestic activities linked to long-term exposure to particulates and linked to aggravating heart and lung conditions and causing cardiac arrhythmias, heart attacks, and respiratory effects such as asthma attacks and bronchitis." - Centre for Cities findings.
Liberal Democrats have consistently called on Medway Council to play a leadership role by adopting sensible, coherent planning policies which are in line with our local environment. Concentrating new developments in areas with good bus and rail links to reduce car usage by employee and customers, with new housing in locations where there is scope to provide decent pedestrian, cycling and public transport connections.
The report states that the towns major roads and congestion are the main sources of air pollution. The Council should be taking measures to discourage or ban van and lorry movements at certain times of day
Buses can play a major part in reducing air pollution by giving people alternatives to driving, the Council needs to promote its existing Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) to address pollution in the region by encouraging people to use public transport. Cheaper fares, a greater frequency of services, more twilight bus services, quicker journey times and promoting eco-driving and car sharing are alternatives.
Liberal Democrats welcome the news that the Council launched its first electric bus trial last year, and we support any positive initiatives that the Council is making into what infrastructure Medway would need should bus providers and operators also share an interest in introducing electric buses across Medway in future years.
We strongly favour cycling and walking as a pollution-free way ahead for the towns and would provide infrastructure which would promote the benefits - both health and economic - of integrating cycling into our towns environment. We would provide more secure cycle parking and cycle paths across the towns and a clear pro-cycling policy. As traffic congestion account to Medway's emissions each year, cycling during peak hours would contribute to further emission reductions by reducing congestion and improving traffic flow across Medway.
Liberal Democrats demand better and the findings contained in the 'Centre for Cities' report need to be addressed as rapidly as possible to remedy the situation. We are calling for a local development plan that will invest in our local health, and in infrastructure that will improve the air quality around our towns.