Comment Wrong way Street plays to gallery on Clean Air Zone
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