Labour Councillors in Dartford have said it is unacceptable that the Dartford Crossing is still not being included in assessments of air pollution in Dartford, six months after the government promised to correct the oversight.
The news comes as a report before Dartford Councils Policy Overview Committee reveals that Dartford has the second highest rate of hospital admissions for asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Labour’s Shadow Chair on the Committee Councillor Daisy Page (Centre) expressed her concerns
“The data in this report shows that air pollution levels in Dartford remain unacceptably high, The link between poor air quality and health issues is well established and data shows that there is a correlation between proximity to the Dartford Crossing and hospital admissions for asthma and chronic heart disease. We need to see urgent action to tackle the issue of air pollution in Dartford.
It is unacceptable that 6 months after it was first revealed that the Dartford Crossing was not included in assessments of air quality pollution because it classed it as a rural road, the government have still not corrected this error. Labour will be proposing that the Policy Overview Committee writes to Ministers as a matter of urgency to ensure that the Crossing is included in the Government's Air Quality Plan. This is especially important in light of the health risks that the data the Policy Overview Committee have been given show. The Government delayed naming the location of the Lower Thames Crossing – we now need to make sure they push forward with construction as quickly as we’ve heard nothing on progress since the announcement was made”
Labour’s Leader on Dartford Council Cllr Jonathon Hawkes said the response from the government and the Council wasn’t good enough
“Air pollution is one of the most important issues facing Dartford in the next decade. However, the response of bothConservative Council and the Government has beencomplacent and inadequate. The Government Air Quality Action Plan claims that air pollution in Dartford will fall to ‘acceptable’ levels by 2020 but offer no evidence to support how or why that will happen. I think the health of our residents is too important take that claim at face value, the council appears to be using this claim as a basis not take any real action to help reduce air pollution levels.
Dartford Conservatives have clearly failed to influence the Government in taking our air pollution crisis seriously. The government are still not including the Crossing in the model for the Air Quality Plan. If the Cabinet Member Cllr Keith Kelly cannot or will not raise with the government, Labour will.
Labour believes that local councils should be empowered and supported to bring forward their own initiatives to tackle air pollution in their local communities and a Labour Council in Dartford in 2019 will treat this a priority. Monitoring of air quality is important but we need to take much bolder steps. Sadly, the Conservative Council's responses to the UK Action Plan ducked the chance to present ideas to government that would enable this authority to constructively influence how air quality is improved in the Borough”