I welcome the progress which has been made in producing a much-needed strategy for tackling pollution in our city.
It is the Conservative group’s intention to try to improve on this plan and not simply criticise from the sidelines. This is a difficult task and a complicated issue but we do still have concerns about some of the proposed measures.
The suggested ban on private diesels is problematic. Not only is it unfair to motorists who were encouraged by Labour politicians to buy this type of engine but also the limited scrappage scheme on offer is not be a realistic inducement to upgrade or discard their car.
This money would be better spent on providing grants to allow owners to fit new high specification catalytic converters to enable them to meet complaint standards.
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There are other issues with the creation of an inner-city ban. A major consideration appears to have been completely overlooked – that of access to our main hospitals: the BRI, Children’s Hospital and their A&Es. They are inside the CAZ – so needing urgent care could land you with a hefty fine!
Traffic around the inner area will be displaced and the CAZ itself is sure to create more pollution in Bristol’s suburbs. The fact the ban will operate part of the day means it will also lead to new travelling patterns (either side of the curfew) which will defeat the whole purpose of this anti-pollution measure.
These are important considerations which I hope the mayor will reflect upon and take seriously. A ban would be a radical move and require secondary legislation to bring into effect. That step is far from certain.
We acknowledge that the Outline Business Case is overdue progress towards dealing with Bristol’s unacceptable and illegal levels of pollution.
However, it is our intention to contribute to this debate and offer constructive criticism where possible to try to improve or shape any final plan of action.
Claire Hiscott is deputy leader of the Conservative group of councillors at City Hall. This is her formal statement to cabinet outlining Conservative observations on Bristol City Council’s draft Clean Air Plan.