Monday, 4 November 2013

Galloway calls for urgent action on air pollution

The Bradford West Respect MP George Galloway today called for urgent action to improve air quality in the city which has the fourth-highest number of emergency hospital admissions for asthma in the country. And he hit out at the "churlish, petty and damaging" views expressed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders on Bradford council "who clearly believe this isn't a problem".

According to campaigning group Asthma UK, which is to give evidence to parliament next month, the city is one of the worst places in the country if you are an asthma sufferer. And air pollution is the principal cause.

"It's not often I commend an initiative by the Labour-controlled council but I hope the recommendations by its Defra-funded study on air quality improvement are rubber-stamped next week," Galloway said." It's obvious that vehicle pollution, particularly from heavy goods vehicles and buses, is one of the major causes of some 853 emergency hospital admissions last year of asthma sufferers. Pollution is particularly high in parts of my constituency, like Manningham for instance.

"It's sensible, as the council's Low Emission Strategy recommends, to direct heavy vehicles away from pollution trouble-spots like Manningham Lane. But it doesn't go far enough. We need rigorous spot-checks on HGVs and buses to see if their emissions are below the legal limit. I'm not convinced this is happening and I will be asking questions in parliament about it. And we need transport companies and hauliers to commit to green initiatives, like dual fuel and natural gas and, where possible, we need goods traffic shifted to the railways," Galloway said.

Galloway was particularly scathing about the two minority party leaders. "Glen Miller seems to be miffed because he didn't know about the LES, and isn't even part of the band, far less conducting it. And if the quotes attributed to the Lib-Dem leader Jeanette Sunderland are accurate, that she believes that reducing pollution isn't a priority, then she probably also thinks that sending kids up chimneys aids their skills development and spatial awareness. Churlish, petty and damaging surely sums it up."

The MP pointed out that Bradford MDC will underspend by £2.7 million this year and has almost £140 million in reserves. "Much of that is earmarked, but priorities can be altered. And we do know that there is some £17 million unallocated, so there are the funds to do something about reducing the unacceptable and dangerous level of pollutants in our atmosphere."

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Respiratory Health’s first evidence session of its inquiry into respiratory deaths – focusing specifically on asthma is taking place on Tuesday 19 November, 2pm–3.30pm, in Room T at Portcullis House. Westminster.

At this evidence session a number of expert witnesses will be heard, including Dr Mark Levy, Clinical Lead for the National Review of Asthma Deaths (which is due to publish its findings next spring) and a parent who lost their child to asthma. They will be sharing their insight into why so many people are still dying from asthma; where the system is failing and what changes are needed to reduce asthma deaths