- Luke Pollard MP backs campaign to ban cars outside schools, hospitals and GP surgeries
- Reducing cars on our streets must be done alongside more accessible and clean public transport
- Plymouth MP says Tory cuts have left local authorities less able to tackle air pollution crisis
In March of this year, Public Health England (PHE) published key recommendations to tackle our air pollution crisis. They state that air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure.
PHE links air pollution to the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and lung cancer as well as exacerbating asthma. Worldwide, air pollution is responsible for 16% of all deaths, killing three times as many people as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
Banning cars outside schools, hospitals and GP surgeries would seriously reduce the risk air pollution poses to children. Luke Pollard MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport has backed this call but says reducing the numbers of cars on our roads must be done alongside funding for more frequent, accessible and clean public transport.
The report highlights that one of the key interventions local authorities (LAs) can take is boosting investment in clean public transport, but under the Conservatives funding to LAs has been slashed. The Labour MP has challenged the government’s commitment to tackle this crisis by asking where the funding is to improve air quality.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“Air pollution is a national crisis both for our health and our environment. We should establish “no idling” zones outside every school in the UK and outside all hospitals and GP practices too. If we are to meet environmental targets and reduce deaths linked to pollution we urgently need to reduce our dependence on cars.
“However, banning cars on certain streets needs to be done with a comprehensive strategy to improve access and frequency of public transport. There has been a 45% reduction in funding for bus services across England and Wales from 2010-11 to 2017-18. Bus journeys have become less frequent and more expensive. Last year alone, the number of bus journeys in England fell by 63 million outside London while bus fares have risen by 27% over the last 9 years.
“Tory cuts to local authorities and public transport shows that this government is not serious about air pollution and the threat it poses to human and environmental health.”