City leaders in joint call for air quality action

Local government leaders from ten of the UK’s largest cities have called for more stringent measures and funding from central government to tackle air pollution.

Leaders from Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield, signed a joint statement today (9 October) which has described the government’s air quality plan as ‘not sufficient’ to address health challenges posed by air pollution.

Core Cities air quality agreement

City leaders including Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, Cardiff council leader Huw Thomas, Manchester city council leader Sir Richard Leese, Leeds council leader Judith Blake, Newcastle council leader Nick Forbes, Nottingham council leader Jon Collins and Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson have signed the joint agreement

The plan, which was published in July, names more than 20 local authorities who are required to draw up proposals to deal with air pollution in their area.

According to the councils, the plan “lacks the resources” local councils need to tackle the problem, despite a £255 million pot of funding having been set aside for councils.

The cities have also described the air quality plan as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that will not work on the ground in cities.

The statement, which was signed by all ten of the authorities, all of which form Core Cities UK a body which promotes joint working between the regions.

The agreement, which was signed at a Core Cities meeting in Cardiff today, states: “Core Cities UK broadly welcome the publication of the government’s Plan for Air Quality, and also recognises the significant devolved responsibilities relating to it that exist for Scotland and Wales.

“However, our view is that the plan as it stands is, on its own, insufficient to address the serious health challenges we see across our cities. It has a lack of resources, is too focused on a one-size-fits-all approach and has an overly optimistic view of current air quality data.”

Collaboration

Councillor Judith Blake, chair of Core Cities UK and leader of Leeds city council, said: “Air pollution results in a shocking death toll across our cities every year and we need to act locally and act quickly. As well as the avoidable deaths, poor air quality also results in long-term illness, making people’s lives unproductive and miserable for years.

“The government’s plan is a good start, but it falls well short of delivering a sustainable solution. What we need is for Whitehall and Westminster to work with us so we can make a difference.

“We want an agreement with government that will set out how local and national leadership can work together, giving cities tools and resources to deliver the local changes each place needs.”

Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle city council and Core Cities UK cabinet portfolio member for Air Quality, added: “It’s no good imposing top down solutions and making places bid against each other for cash.

“There are many contributory factors to poor air quality, so we need a range of solutions combining local initiatives with central government action, tailored to each individual city. We’re offering to work with Government to find constructive solutions to one of the biggest health challenges of our generation.”