The decision taken by the Liberal Democrat Cabinet to exclude a number of the most polluted roads in the city from the planned Clean Air Zone is to be reviewed by a scrutiny committee after the City Solicitor accepted a request from a number of opposition councillors.
The decision to further reduce the size of the planned Clean Air Zone had proved controversial with environmental campaigners and community activists warning it would increase levels of dangerous air pollution along Fratton Road and Kingston Road, placing at risk the health of those who live, learn and work in the area.
Labour and other opposition councillors have sought to challenge this decision through use of a “call-in” request which would see the issue reviewed by the Scrutiny Management Panel. Having judged the request to be based on valid reasons, the City Solicitor will now progress the issue to a committee meeting on Monday 9th November.
Council decisions can be subject to “call-in” where they are deemed to have potentially been based on incomplete or inaccurate information or where they are contrary to the council’s agreed budget and policy framework. In this case a number of valid reasons have been identified including:
- Incorrect claims that government would not fund a Clean Air Zone that included the Fratton Road and Kingston Road corridor.
- Misleading statements that air pollution on Fratton Road and Kingston Road could not be considered as part of the decision.
- Insufficient assessment of the equalities impact the decision would have, in particular the disproportionate effects on minority on ethnic minority communities.
- Lack of evidence regarding the positive impact on air quality levels that a larger Clean Air Zone could have.
- Inadequate information about existing air quality levels in the Fratton Road and Kingston Road areas.
Lead petitioner for the call-in request councillor Cal Corkery said: “The majority of households in Charles Dickens ward don’t own a car but yet we are subjected to the worst air pollution levels in the city. A number of Cabinet members justified taking Fratton Road out of the Clean Air Zone on not wanting to redirect traffic into wealthier parts of the city. This is a class issue and it’s clear that the poorer areas are once again being let down.”
Community campaigner and Fratton resident Nikki Coles added: “Fratton Road and Kingston Road have 5 schools and 3 nurseries either next to the road or very close. Air pollution is at illegal levels and this has an impact on the health of children breathing it in. It goes without saying that these children are more likely to develop health issues compared to those in less polluted areas. A total of 77% of residents surveyed thought the proposed Clean Air Zone was the right size or should be made bigger and these people need to be listened to.”
A meeting of the Scrutiny Management Panel will take place at 1pm on Monday 9th November to consider whether the decision to reduce the size of the planned Clean Air Zone should be referred back to Cabinet for reconsideration. The lead petitioner councillor Cal Corkery will have an opportunity to make the case for why the decision was made in error and the Leader of the Council councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson will respond on behalf of the Cabinet.
The meeting will be live streamed online and can be watched by clicking here.