Com­ment Wrong way Street plays to gallery on Clean Air Zone

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

the West Mid­lands each year”.

As if it were as easy to achieve as it is glibly to say, he now urges the coun­cil to ex­clude even more ve­hi­cles from charges.

He knows that we have rig­or­ously tested count­less sce­nar­ios, in­clud­ing the per­for­mance of ex­ist­ing Clean Air Zones. And he knows, very well, that our mod­el­ling shows that even with the pro­posed scheme, air pol­lu­tion is not pre­dicted to meet the Gov­ern­ment’s stan­dards in all ar­eas be­fore 2022. And he knows that the Gov­ern­ment has made it clear that Birm­ing­ham needs to meet le­gal stan­dards in the short­est pos­si­ble time.

Yet he urges us, just as the con­sul­ta­tion closes, to take ac­tions which he knows would wreck the plans. Be­cause he thinks it will win him votes.

Sim­i­larly, he’s asked us to re­view the ge­og­ra­phy and 24/7 op­er­a­tion of the CAZ. He knows that on the mod­el­ling and the Gov­ern­ment time­frame, the A4540 is the sen­si­ble bound­ary for the CAZ; and that as air qual­ity tar­gets are mea­sured on an av­er­age an­nual mean, any in­crease in the num­ber of non­com­pli­ant ve­hi­cles trav­el­ling at any hour would raise the an­nual mean level, fur­ther de­lay­ing Birm­ing­ham meet­ing the le­gal lim­its.

In his elec­tion man­i­festo, Andy Street promised to ‘tackle this is­sue head-on’ by lob­by­ing the Gov­ern­ment for fi­nan­cial sup­port. He fur­ther pledged to im­prove buses and trains to get peo­ple to switch to us­ing pub­lic trans­port.

Yet fig­ures re­leased just last month showed that in­vest­ment per head in trans­port in the West Mid­lands re­gion in 2016/17 was the third low­est in the UK. The fig­ure for Lon­don is al­most £1,000 per head; for us it’s just over £300. If we had bet­ter pub­lic trans­port, we’d have cleaner air. That’s a fact. And if we got our fair share of fund­ing from the Gov­ern­ment, we’d have bet­ter pub­lic trans­port. That’s a fact too. Rather than play­ing to the gallery, per­haps Andy Street could se­cure some of the promised Tory gov­ern­ment help to mit­i­gate some of the chal­lenges of the CAZ for busi­ness, taxi drivers and cit­i­zens, rather than just sug­gest­ing pop­ulist “im­prove­ments” which he knows would scup­per it. He could even make a con­tri­bu­tion from his own bud­get. And it’s still not too late for him to talk to us about it. On Oc­to­ber 2 we are host­ing a Clean Air Sum­mit in Birm­ing­ham in­volv­ing busi­ness lead­ers, aca­demics, health part­ners, young peo­ple and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups. So far Andy Street has re­fused to come. I’d like him to re­con­sider and join us for a grown-up dis­cus­sion about ac­tu­ally get­ting the job done. Coun­cil­lor Waseem Zaf­far (Labour) is Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil Cabi­net Mem­ber for Trans­port & En­vi­ron­ment

Rather than play­ing to the gallery, per­haps Andy Street could se­cure some of the promised Tory gov­ern­ment help

> Mayor Andy Street last week called on Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil to re­think its pol­icy on the pro­posed Clean Air Zone for Birm­ing­ham city cen­tre

> Andy Street

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