During public questions to the Mayor at Cabinet yesterday (18 June) Green Councillors and members of the public asked for evidence to support the latest Clean Air proposals brought forwards by Labour Mayor Marvin Rees. Bristol's Labour administration has missed two deadlines already to produce plans to deal with the city's toxic air, and could face legal action from the government.
Questions by the ‘Bristol Clean Air Alliance’ asked for public health research of the options explored by the council but were told that the relevant evidence would not be available until December 2019. Green councillors asked for key reports produced by the council which were not released for councillors to view and challenged the administration for bringing forward important plans without evidence that they would work in improving air quality.
Green Councillor for Redland Fi Hance has been following the Council’s air quality plans since her time as a Green Cabinet member. Responding to the plans brought to cabinet yesterday, she branded the repeated delays and un-evidenced proposals by the Labour administration “shameful”.
Councillor Hance said:
“Imagine if the Council had the opportunity to prevent hundreds of early deaths every year in Bristol – to prevent children developing lifelong breathing problems and asthma, and cut rates of lung cancer, strokes and heart disease, improving life expectancy and health across the whole of the city. Not only that – at the same time we could reduce traffic, improve cycling and walking and raise money to transform transport, improving quality of life for everyone in Bristol. By putting together an ambitious, evidence based plan we also could earn tens of millions of pounds in funding to support the work and reduce the impact of changes on the poorest.
“It’s depressing to realise that Bristol has had this opportunity for almost two years now – and so far, this administration has blown it.
“People in Bristol have every right to be angry that after two years waiting and almost a million pounds spent, the Mayor has come up with a rag bag of uncosted, evidence-free suggestions that we don’t even know will improve air quality. For all his protestations that he is protecting the poor with his refusal to limit polluting cars in the city, he knows full well that many of the poorest people in the city – many of whom in wards like Lawrence Hill don’t own cars – have been most affected by his inaction. This is shameful.”
- Image is of Cllr Hance (3rd from right) representing Bristol at the COP23 Climate Summit in Bonn, 2017.