Keep proper journalism alive. It's time to Back the Cable
The Bristol Cable

Air pollution action debated in Council’s budget-setting session

Fight For Fair Air

Delay in clean air action is defended by Labour despite criticisms, opposition parties put forward alternative proposals.

Mayor Marvin Rees used his speech to the Full Council in the Budget 19/20 session today to defend his actions regarding the Clean Air Plan, after missing the government-set deadline of 21 February to submit the plan to government.

Opposition parties used amendments to the budget to propose alternative strategies for improving Bristol’s air and reducing traffic on the roads.




The mayor wrote to the under secretary of state for environment Therese Coffey MP last week to explain his failure to meet the deadline, which had been extended from December, and which prompted Dr Coffey to say she was “absolutely astonished at your delay in improving air quality for the people of Bristol as quickly as possible”.

Rees wrote that he was “committed” to improving Bristol’s illegal and dangerous air

The mayor said a Clean Air Plan would be ready by March and would be “based on evidence”

quality, which contributes to 300 early deaths in the city annually.

He said the modelling that had been done on previously proposed measures to improve air quality showed “would produce significant adverse impacts on low income groups, compounding the challenges we face tackling equality and economic exclusion.” He continued, “We also received warnings that the measures could undermine our economic strength.”

The Clean Air Plan, the mayor said, would be ready by March and would be “based on evidence”.

Pressure from opposition, but motions fail

However, opposition parties used amendments to the budget to push for action on reducing traffic and improving public transport.

The most dramatic was the Green Party motion to amend the budget to include a new congestion charge on vehicles coming into Bristol from outside of the city, which would raise revenue to improve the city’s bus system.

Rees trashed the amendment in his opening statement. He said the proposal was not just “mistaken and seriously flawed” but would be “illegal”. The amendment, Rees said, was an example of addressing climate change through the “prism of privilege”.

Presenting the amendment later in the meeting, Cllr Jerome Thomas disputed the claim that such a charge on out of town drivers only would be ‘illegal’. He argued that “quick, clean and cheap buses must form the backbone” of addressing Bristol’s traffic problems, and described the move as a “bold and vital step”.

However Labour councillor for Lawrence Hill, Hibaq Jama, strongly disputed the legality of the proposal, and claimed it would amount to racism to implement it, based on the areas that would or would not be subject to charging. The motion was voted down.

The Liberal Democrats also put forward motions to fund transport changes including a bus card for under-25s in Bristol to encourage travel by bus. These motions were too voted down.

In summing up the Greens’ view of the budget, Thomas pointed out that, among many other reasons, the group could not back the budget because it included “no budget or plan for improving Bristol’s air to make it legal”.

The budget passed with amendments.

Join 2,500 Cable members redefining local media

Your support will help the Cable grow, deepening our connections in the city and investigating the issues that matter most in our communities.

Join now

What makes us different?

Comments

Post a comment

Mark if this comment is from the author of the article

By posting a comment you agree to our Comment Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

‘Hypocritical and unacceptable’: Leading climate academics call out Bristol Uni for accepting fossil fuel funding

Bristol University is an institution famed for its world-leading climate research. But over recent years it’s taken £3m from oil, gas and mining companies.

‘You needed young people’: how one man nurtured a community on an east Bristol allotment site

Tenants of Bristol’s sought-after allotments are pushing back hard on council proposals to hike fees. But back in the 1980s, plots in Eastville at Royate Hill were unloved and at risk – until Mike Feingold took custody of the land.

Local experts condemn Sunak’s draughty homes U-turn as likely to cost lives

Last week, the government announced it would not be raising the minimum energy efficiency standards of privately rented properties – which will leave thousands of renters living in cold homes.

Bristol’s flood defences are being pushed to their limit. What is the city’s long-term plan, and will it be enough?

The council is searching for an extra £100 million to fund future flood defences to protect low-lying areas of the city. While residents call for greater action, the Cable looks across the North Sea to Rotterdam for inspiration.

Urban growers are quietly laying the ground for a food revolution. Can it become a reality?

Growing fruit and veg close to home is better for our health – and could help keep us fed when climate change disrupts supply chains. Could doing more of it provide a secure, affordable, and sustainable way of meeting Bristol's needs?

Campaigners ‘marry’ River Avon as battle against water sewage pollution continues

Since the mayor’s decision in November not to grant special status to a popular swimming spot, sewage has been discharged into the Avon for the equivalent of 35 days.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning