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"Our Air, Our Commitment! Our Towns!" says Lib Dems candidate for Princes Park by-election -to improve Medway's Air Quality

August 6, 2021 9:28 AM
By Medway Liberal Democrats - John Castle/Alan Wells

car exhaust fumesJohn Castle, the Liberal Democrats candidate for the upcoming Princes Park by-election believes that we can no longer ignore the reality, that Medway is no longer free from dirty air. We feel that air pollution must be tackled now, not only to save our environment but to save lives. A report produced by the Centre for Cities found that 1 in 16 deaths in Chatham "are exclusively driven by combustion in commercial, institutional, and domestic activities linked to long-term exposure to particulates." Nationally, Liberal Democrats are calling for World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on particulate matter to be adopted into UK law, and met by 2030.

John said "We believe that there are measures Medway Council could take now, to improve our town's air quality, with initiatives, such as the Council be encouraging people out of vehicles on their daily commute, and diesel car use discouraged, while ensuring those who cannot walk or cycle have alternative clean modes of transport available.

We have previously stressed that Medway's bus fleet must go electric as soon as possible. Buses can play a major part in reducing air pollution by giving alternatives to driving and the Council could provide incentives with cheaper fares, a greater frequency of services, more twilight bus services, quicker journey times and promoting eco-driving and car sharing. While ensuring that Medway's rural communities have access to good quality, reliable public transport.

We have also called on the Council to invest in more electric vehicle charging points around our towns. We believe the Council could introduce low traffic and traffic free neighbourhoods in consultation with residents and local businesses.

Liberal Democrats have consistently called on the Council to play a leadership role by adopting sensible, coherent planning policies which are in line with our local environment. It should not take a pandemic and large parts of our towns' economy being shut down for us to breathe clean air. We now have an opportunity, while our towns have seen air quality improvement by the response to Covid-19, to design a Medway that is better equipped to address these challenges.

Medway should lead the way in tackling air pollution, the creation of new, green jobs, at a time when a public health crisis and the fallout from Brexit are changing how our economy works. Liberal Democrats demand better and findings such as 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."

ENDS

Additional Information for Editors:

John Castle - Princes Park Candidate

John is an experienced campaigner for Medway Liberal Democrats. John has a strong understanding of social justice and campaigned to reinstate a mental health unit in Medway. He is also actively campaigning on a number of issues, including the environment, homelessness issues and campaigning on air quality issues.

John has been a member of the Liberal Democrats since 2011 and has held several positions and is currently the Chair. John has stood for council twice previously in 2015 and 2019.

QUOTE:

"I know first hand that traffic related issues getting in and out of the ward can be a daily challenge for residents. These traffic issues contribute to the air quality issues seen across Medway. I know that the Council can do better on air quality. I believe in and campaign for the protection of greenspaces. The Conservatives are also letting developers have the whip hand. It's time to improve Medway, better is possible."

  • Lived in Medway for the last 15 years, having grown up in Banbury, Oxfordshire

  • Studied computer science at Coventry University, leading to a 25 year career as a software engineer

  • Passionate about music, playing guitar and bass as a hobby. He is a keen traveller and enjoys visiting new countries