Time For Brave Politicians
Sometimes, politicians can be seriously conflicted by two competing issues.
A good local example is the needs of the economy and jobs, against a serious public health issue… poor air quality.
West of Southampton, including part of Totton, has such poor air quality, mainly due to diesel emissions, that it has been declared an Air Quality Zone by national government and effective actions must be taken to improve it.
The issue hasn’t been properly tackled in the past and it is more serious than most people realise.
Figures released by Public Health England have confirmed that around 40,000 people die prematurely in the UK as a result of these air quality issues.
If you live in or near the air quality zone, you are at greater risk.
My sources tell me that Southampton City Council are considering imposing a charge on every Heavy Goods Vehicle that enters the zone.
This could be anywhere between £100 – £200 per vehicle.
The plans are intended to deter lorry movements in the zone and to encourage the operators to relocate to other areas where the air quality issues aren’t so acute and / or make better use of rail.
The City Council would use the extra money collected to take measures that improve air quality in the city… everything from planting trees to purchasing electric powered vehicles.
As you might expect, such a move won’t be welcomed by those operating Southampton docks.
It will make them less competitive with other ports and they will very likely lose business.
I expect some politicians to be subject to heavy lobbying, both nationally and locally.
This isn’t however something that can be further delayed.
With people dying for the sake of clean air, brave politicians must understand their primary duty.
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I have spoken at length to Councillor Neville Penman this morning. He was good enough to brief me on how the meeting went last night, supported by police officers, about crime and anti-social behaviour.