Yesterday I met with Core Cities leaders in Cardiff to call on the Government to take more action on air pollution.
We don’t want to just critique government plans, and are willing to meet this challenge by working with parliament across parties in order to strengthen the plan and act to end the impact of poor air quality that equates to 15,000 avoidable deaths every year across our cities. Bristol and other Core Cities stand ready to act, but delivering change is a joint responsibility at the national and local level.
Together as city leaders we signed a joint statement which says the Government’s Air Quality Plan is not sufficient to address health challenges, lacks the resources local councils need to make a difference and is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that will not work on the ground in cities. We are calling on Government to work with us jointly and individually, to create a Memorandum of Understanding for Clean Air with our cities. It will set out how local and national leadership will work together, enshrining the principles of a new approach.
Air pollution is a serious problem in Bristol and it is unacceptable that lives are at risk because of harmful emissions. This isn’t an attack on motorists though – it’s about our wider need to develop a transport system that works best for everyone. We hope this funding will help us develop effective and affordable ways to improve air quality, whilst taking into account wider transport measures and traffic congestion, and the impacts of future growth. Because of this, it was great that Lord Adonis, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, was present for much of the day. He told me that he is supportive of our ambitions for the city, and made me aware that he will be coming to Bristol next week for the Festival of the Future City.