Oxfordshire Liberal Democrats

Tackling polluting traffic should be a priority

Liberal Democrat Councillor Jean Fooks keeps up the pressure on the County Council to tackle polluting traffic.

At the County Council meeting on April 1st 2014, Cllr Jean Fooks proposed a motion asking the Council to make reducing pollution by traffic a priority.

It was supported by all Liberal Democrats, Labour, Green and Independent councillors - though most Conservatives just sat on their hands! Public Health officers were very pleased to have Council approval for working on this issue and the latest version of the Local Transport Plan (LTP4) has a new chapter detailing the work to be done to reduce the risk to health.

In September 2015 at the full council meeting, Cllr. Jean Fooks' amendment was finally accepted and resulted in this separate chapter to the new plan. This recent version of LTP4 was voted through unanimously by all councillors at the full council meeting in July.

The following letter, written by Cllr. Jean Fooks has been published in The Oxford Times:

"The harmful effects of air pollution have been well publicised and traffic emissions, especially from diesel vehicles, are the major cause in urban areas. It is up to the County Council as the Highways Authority to take all possible measures to reduce traffic emissions and hence pollution.

Last week's updated Local Transport Plan 4(LTP4) contained significant changes to strengthen policies aimed at reducing pollution. The motion proposed by Liberal Democrats last year, with almost unanimous support across the Council, specified four approaches which have been adopted in the updated LTP4.

The new Active and Healthy Travel Strategy sets out how to encourage more walking and cycling, reducing car travel and promoting health at the same time.

Diesel vehicles are responsible for much of the nitrogen dioxide. Although Oxford has a Low emission Zone in the centre, this only applies to buses. The proposal to move to a Zero Emission Zone will have to be gradual but should start with extending restrictions to diesel freight vehicles, coaches and taxis.

Better partnership working between county and district councils is needed to make faster progress on delivering Air Quality Action Plans in affected areas in the county. Unitary status would help; in the meantime the County must appoint an officer with this specific remit.

The fourth measure is to introduce low or zero emission mass transit vehicles - this includes the electrification of the main railway lines for both passengers and freight through the county.

These are an encouraging start - all need continued pressure to make progress."

Jean Fooks
Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Wolvercote and Summertown



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