Croydon is a borough council which will shortly be spending £10million of public money per year to pay for a massive waste incinerator to operate on its borders, pumping out pollutants into the atmosphere for the next quarter-century.
And Croydon is a borough council which has fully subscribed to the £1.4billion Hammersfield supermall development in the town centre, which includes 3,100 car parking spaces which will encourage thousands of additional journeys by motor vehicles every day, in an area where the air quality has for years has been breaking EU legal limits.
And now, that very same borough council is running a little public consultation. On the borough’s air quality.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing anything about it.
The council’s press office (annual budget: £500,000-plus), based in its bunker in Fisher’s Folly, has yet to issue any press release about the consultation.
But according to the air quality survey, which was launched last week and is due to run until August 21, the council which denies that there’s an air quality crisis on its major highways, which spends millions on a potentially polluting incinerator, and which is encouraging cars to be driven into the town centre on our already clogged roads, “is committed to improving air quality within its borough”.
Yeah, we didn’t believe them, either.The air quality survey is seeking public responses to some minor, nibbling-round-the-edges schemes which the council will undoubtedly impose on the borough’s residents from next year, regardless of which political party wins the Town Hall elections (because it is what the council’s paid employees have determined that they will do). And now they’ll be able to say that they “consulted” with residents.
But buried in the middle of this, perhaps deliberately so that bored respondents end up ticking the “agree” option without actually considering the question, is one measure to extend a ban on back-garden bonfires.
The preamble to the survey says, “Croydon is committed to improving air quality within its borough and has produced a new plan that builds on existing successful actions and developed new actions to improve air quality. We are seeking views from people who live and work in Croydon to help shape our action plan.”
There follows a series of lame leading questions, few offering any real detail on what is being proposed. Most of the questions posed are pretty facile and would seem hard for most reasonable people to disagree with what is offered. They don’t quite go as far as “Do you Strongly Agree, Disagree or Don’t Know with the statement: ‘I would like the air that I breathe to be pollution-free’.” But they’re not far off.
Of course, there is no mention of the Beddington incinerator, nor of bans on cars being used to ferry children to and from their schools, nor of any efforts made to discourage people from using their cars to go on shopping trips to supermalls in the town centre.The bonfire issue appears to be an attempt to nudge more residents into using the (now paid-for) garden waste collection service, rather than allow them to simply the burn their waste in the back gardens of Purley, Coulsdon and Kenley.
“Smoke control zones are areas in which only certain types of fuel or exempt appliances can be used. In Croydon, only the northern half of the borough has been designated a smoke control zone. We are proposing to extend the zone to the whole of the borough in line with Croydon’s Air Quality Management Area,” the survey explains, before seeking the respondent’s answer to a leading question which states: “Bonfires create substantial amounts of smoke and other pollutants”. Not as much as a £1billion incinerator might do, but hey…
There’s a parenthetical reassurance which states, “There will be exemptions for cultural events”, so the council can’t be accused of “Banning Bonfire night”. So that’s alright then.
The council’s press office has not been entirely idle in the last few days, though. They’ve been busy promoting another of Councillor Mark Watson’s pet projects, and they have also issued another press release which refers to air pollution.
The council has run a poster competition among the borough’s schoolchildren “to raise awareness of air pollution”. Bless.
The winner is a 10-year-old Coulsdon primary pupil, Jada Kelly, who designed her poster after air quality lessons in school, which included using diffusion tubes to measure nitrogen dioxide levels in nearby roads and fields.
On receiving her award, Kelly said, “I think cars are the biggest problem with air pollution so I wanted people to think more about them.”
If a 10-year-old can recognise that, why can’t Croydon Council?
- If you want to take part in the council consultation on air quality and offer them your thoughts on the matter, then click here.
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