Perry has no plan to improve our borough’s toxic air pollution

Deadly toxic: Croydon’s heavy traffic makes the borough’s air quality one of the most polluted in all of London

CROYDON COMMENTARY: The borough’s Conservative Mayor, Jason Perry, is failing to protect the health of Croydon residents, says Councillor RIA PATEL (pictured left)

We all know that Mayor Jason Perry has been very vocal about opposing ULEZ, the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, so I assumed he must have a better plan to reduce air pollution.

Yet in response to my question at a recent council meeting, he admitted that he doesn’t even have one. This failure puts all our health at risk.

Let’s be clear, air pollution is a killer. A recent study by Imperial College estimated that nearly 200 people die every year in Croydon due to air pollution, and thousands of years of life are lost across our borough. Croydon has one of the highest death rates from pollution in London.

Pollution doesn’t just affect people at the end of their lives.

Children inhale more air per unit of bodyweight than adults and they are more active and therefore breathe in more air pollution.

Perry perils: the decision of the Mayor to do nothing to improve air quality may damage Croydon’s children permanently

The World Health Organization warns that children’s bodies are less able to deal with the toxicants contained in air pollution, and this pollution not only affects them physically but the neurotoxic compounds in air pollution can also affect children’s brain development.

Even before they are born, babies of exposed to air pollution during pregnancy are more likely to be premature and low birth weight.

We have known about this problem for a long time and Croydon Council used to have a clean air action plan. The last time it was revised was 2017.

That plan wasn’t great but it was at least an attempt to start tackling the problem.

When it comes to reducing pollution, Mayor Perry has made it clear that he is completely against the ULEZ. As my Green Party colleague Peter Underwood has said, we know the ULEZ isn’t perfect but it is a move in the right direction.

Given that Mayor Perry is opposing a plan to reduce toxic pollution, I was appalled to find that he doesn’t even have a plan of his own. In fact, he appears to have done absolutely nothing to come up with a new air quality plan since he was elected. Even worse, he admitted that he has just left the old air quality action plan on a shelf gathering dust.

Death toll: figures from 2021 showed Croydon had the highest number of deaths of all boroughs in London related to toxic polluted air

This dereliction of duty is really shocking. The Mayor is failing to protect our health and the health of our children.

In his answer at Town Hall questions, the Mayor mumbled something about “modal shift”. That’s the idea that we need to change how people travel around to methods that produce less pollution. But, as Inside Croydon has often reported, Mayor Perry’s track record on transport points in the opposite direction.

That why we all need to keep fighting to get the Mayor to cut pollution and make our streets healthier. If he wants to develop a genuine plan to reduce air pollution in Croydon significantly, then the Greens will work with him to make that happen.

But he needs to act quickly. Croydon residents are suffering and dying every day and we can’t afford to wait any longer.

  • Ria Patel is a Green Party councillor for Fairfield ward, elected to Croydon Council in May 2022

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16 Responses to Perry has no plan to improve our borough’s toxic air pollution

  1. What a lot of space you have wasted. It’s just not like you. You could just as well have headed the article as ” Perry has no plan.” That would be accurate, concise both historically and predictively true. It would be nice, too, if you expanded what you call him: “Part Time Perry Who has no Plans” would again be precise and accurate. That could shorten a lot of articles.

    • Thanks, Arno.

      Will pass your notes on precis to Ria Patel…

      • Ian Kierans says:

        Pass on also that I quite liked it and feel that both Greens should have been at least co-opted by the Mayor to at least update the Clean Air plan with implementation scales and had it brought to the Council for approval/amendment.
        About time he got Collegiate instead of a total failure!

  2. Rima Armstrong says:

    I wish, rather than dedicating 400 words purely to slating the opposition, Croydon’s politicians would use some of their valuable word count to actually articulate their plans for a greener/safer/more prosperous borough. Have the Greens in Croydon committed to shutting down the highly toxic Beddington incinerator? Will there be requirements for industries and manufacturers in the Borough to meet emission targets linked to a Net Zero strategy? Do the Greens have an actionable plan for revamping our transport network outside of Croydon Town Centre? Instead of clinging onto one sole tactic that penalises residents for making journeys in their vehicles, no matter the location or duration of the journey, why not actually spend some time telling us how you’re going to improve our lives in ways that us mere mortal residents won’t have to pay through the nose for.

    • Angus Hewlett says:

      The Greens in Croydon cannot shut down the Beddington incinerator, it is situated in, & operates by licence of, Sutton borough. It is notable that they built it such that the prevailing wind carries all its noxious waste over Croydon and Merton boroughs, not Sutton town centre.

      Greens have lobbied for more and cleaner buses, and action is being taken by TfL to clean up the fleet with hybrid and full-electric vehicles – partly at the behest of Green AMs, Caroline Russell, Sian Berry and Zack Polanski. But the majority of the public transport network is funded and operated by TfL, and is not at the behest of Croydon Council.

      TfL’s funding is on a stranglehold from central Government. London should be developing new rail and bus routes and increasing the frequency on all existing services, but it isn’t being given the money to do so. The Department for Transport has just – once again – turned down their request to take over operation of SouthEastern metro rail. (That’s more relevant if you live in Welling or Lewisham than Croydon, but a TfL takeover would mean Overground-style services on those lines, which would be a huge upgrade; DfT’s refusal tells you all you need to know about the politics there).

      Reducing private vehicle usage goes hand in hand with creating space for the bus network to operate efficiently, and the active travel network to operate safely. You might not like it, but private vehicles are what cause buses to be slow and cycling/scooting to be too unsafe for many potential users – as well as CO2 emissions and air pollution.

      Personally as a Green member and sometime candidate, the biggest thing we could do to improve lives would be to invest more in the parks. Croydon has so many amazing green spaces but many of them are deserted or drastically underused compared to neighbouring boroughs. Compare parks like Ashburton or South Norwood Rec with Ruskin or Myatt’s Fields (never mind Burgess or Brockwell!), there’s literally no reason Croydon shouldn’t be able to have what Lambeth does.

      And we should take a leaf (pun intended) out of the London National Park City book and create new linear parks in areas like Broad Green and parts of Selhurst & Thornton Heath where recreational greenery is otherwise sparse. Make a low traffic walking / slow cycling recreational corridor from say West Croydon to Thornton Heath or East Croydon to Addiscombe, plant it with trees, rain gardens, bee boxes and the rest.

      • Ian Kierans says:

        I would love some linear parks in my family’s areas – but that would require a total reversal of Cheesbrough’s and Townsend’s policies and decisions that social engineered those exact areas into under-resourced and overdeveloped sink areas along with the removal of so many high rises developed and propping up the lack of appropriate social housing in Croydon.

      • Rima says:

        Great! You wrote the article us politically homeless would like to see. I’m not interested in the Tories, I want to know what the Greens are planning. Why isn’t this on their website? And why can’t Croydon Greens work alongside Sutton Greens to find a solution for the incinerator? I’ve been asking for trees on my street from the council for ages… not got a thing. Will the Greens have a tree-planting programme where residents can apply? What’s the plan? These are the questions I need answering, not ANOTHER piece on how awful the Tories are. We all know that already.

        • The article is on the website. You’ve just read it. It’s here, together with thousands of earlier pieces that this website has published over the course of more than 12 years. Just because you haven’t bothered looking for them doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

          As for why no one takes action on the incinerator, ask the Liberal Democrats in Sutton. They control that council. And they conspired with the Tories in Croydon to build the incinerator. And yes, that’s all been reported on this website, multiple times, too.

        • Angus Hewlett says:

          Try that link for trees.

          Or watch this space for “Trees for Croydon” , expect an article on here in the next month or two. Lots of possibilities there.

  3. It’s not that Jason Perry doesn’t have a plan to tackle air pollution that bothers me. It’s that he simply doesn’t care. None of the Tories do.

    That’s why they’re anti-ULEZ and pro-road building. Public transport fares have rocketed (and services cut) since they came to power in 2010, yet petrol prices have been held down. They’re happy to let climate changing emissions soar and twiddle their thumbs as sewage is dumped in our rivers and onto our beaches.

    The irony is that a lot of Tories are now branding their campaign materials in a style that is a clear rip-off of the Green party.

    Vote blue, go gangrene

    • James Seabrook says:

      I broadly agree but think that not all Tories should be painted with the same brush. I think there are some who do care around the country and they should be given the credit they deserve. But generally the palpable lack of proactivity by our local cohorts for sorting out the US run Beddington polluter unit, lack of vision for a greener borough and basically total ignorance of anything other than car drivers is awful.

      Talking of Tories being pro road-building I have the complete displeasure of having to drive along a large section of the M25 once or twice a week and can’t believe the dreadful standard of driving. The majority of people these days drive in the right-most two lanes. This is not only dangerous but reduces capacity as undertaking is illegal. This means sometimes the three left-most lanes are virtually empty. If people would drive correctly, ie. tend towards the left hand lanes as designed, there would perhaps be less requirement for more road building. They’ve cut down goodness knows how many trees by the A3 junction for widening the motorway. Hardly green credentials there.

      In my opinion Ria has at least brought out into the open that Perry who we collectively voted in, and who promised so much with his Tory rhetoric, has seemingly done and continues to do very little to help this borough or its residents.

      • Don White says:

        Most drivers on the M25 now are probably “Smart” enough to know that it is too risky to drive in the lane which used to be the hard shoulder, nor in the lane adjacent to it.

      • Ian Kierans says:

        Inclined to agree my family went on three motorways last weekend and had a lovely journey mostly in the left lane and the middle lane occasionally at between 65 – 70mph – whereas both outer lanes were doing 50 then 80 then braking hard and slowing back to 50 with a lot of hooting and light flashing and lane hopping. Guess we were lucky as there was few large lorries about.

      • Ian Kierans says:

        I am confused as to why you ever felt differently about Perry bearing in mind his record? I struggled for over a decade to find anything of worth.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      I would suggest they are clueless and ineffectual but with the repeated behaviours it begins to look like real intent to feather the nests as much as they can and run when found out.

  4. Rich says:

    Talking of the health of residents, what’s happened to Part-Time Perry’s electoral promise to re-open Purley Pool? It was a priority apparently. Wouldn’t like to think he’s forgotten….

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