21 June 2018
Brighton and Hove is one of 40 UK cities listed by the World Health Organisation as breaching safe air pollution limits. ‘Hotspots’ in the city such as on London Road, Western Road and North Street regularly exceed both UK and EU limits for nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas that along with other pollutants has been identified as a main cause of premature deaths and lung cancer.
All parties on the Council backed a Green proposal for a city-wide ‘Clean Air Day’ event with the aim of highlighting the causes and effects of air pollution and helping residents to understand how cleaning up the city’s air will benefit their health.
However with no information available on Council plans for an awareness campaign, Greens are calling on the Labour Council to “decide whether it is going to commit to taking the air pollution crisis seriously, or not.” Pointing to decisions made by the Labour Council to cut down pedestrian-only hours in George Street, to keep parking perks for Councillors and oppose plans for more cycle parking, Greens say progress on air pollution under Labour has stalled. 
Green Councillor Louisa Greenbaum, who proposed the idea of a ‘Clean Air Day’ awareness event, commented:
“Air pollution contributes to a shocking 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK – and 250 of those are in Brighton and Hove. An NHS report found that air pollution can have a damaging effect from when a baby is in the womb and continue throughout life to older age, playing a role in many chronic conditions such as cancer, asthma, heart disease, and even dementia, so we will all know someone who is affected.
“Nitrogen dioxide concentrations in Brighton and Hove continue to exceed EU and UK standards endangering the health of all the City’s residents, but particularly children and older people. The recently announced extension of the Low Emission Zone established under the Greens is welcome, but it is not enough. Other cities are already doing so much more. It is literally a matter of life and death and we need urgent action to be taken immediately.” 
“The Labour Council needs to decide whether it is going to commit to taking the air pollution crisis seriously or not, and that means making the right choices. Overwhelmingly, pollution is caused by road vehicles so it needs to look, for example, at reducing use of diesel vehicles, tackling congestion, and getting tough on engine idling. Green Councillors have put forward proposals for all these measures which have not been taken up, including our proposal for a Clean Air Day which would help to educate residents on the risk of poor air quality. The Labour Council pays lip service to this crisis but doesn’t really get it.”
Greens want to see bolder measures to curb air pollution and a renewed focus on low-carbon transport, spearheading a ‘No2 Idling’ campaign aiming to reduce the exposure of children to toxic fumes. Recent studies released for Clean Air Day have revealed that children are exposed to 30% more pollution than adults on their walk to school, due to proximity to exhaust fumes.
Public Health England research has shown that even a fractional improvement in air quality would lead to huge improvements in children’s health.