Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western hosts summit on air quality in towns
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has today (Friday October hosted a summit covering the issue of air quality in both towns.
The event, held at Leamington town hall, included guest speakers and question and answer sessions centred around the issue.
The speakers included Mr Western who gave an introduction and talk on proposals for a transport hub in Leamington and concluding remarks.
They also included public health consultant Dr Nadia Inglis who spoke on the public health impact of poor air quality, Dr OLiver Lawton on getting active and the health economy, Adrian Hart and Alan Law on Warwickshire County Council's current initiatives, the challenges of air pollution and the opportunities for change, Professor Reza Ziarati on the need for an independent office for monitoring air quality locally and other solutions, Cllr Alex Hollingsworth of Oxford City Council on the zero emission zone in the city and Annabel Precious of Clean Air for Leamington on the vision for sustainable transport in the town.
In his introduction, Mr Wester said: "This issue is such a major threat to our health.
"When we talk about air quality it is linked to so many other issues including congestion in urban areas and our physical well being in regard to how we get around our cities and towns which has changed dramatically in the last 50 years which has led to an epidemic of diabetes and obesity in young people.
"There are so many interlinked challenges the all come down to a common denominator.
"When you look at how much of the global population lives in our cities this is currently 35 per cent and that will rise to above 68 per cent by 2050 then one of the critical issues we face is the mobility of people then it becomes about the density of urban planning and building sustainable transport routes.
"In Warwick and Leamington we have particular issues with air quality where there are serious hotspots - I have talked about this in parliament not to denigrate our great towns but to talk about what is a serious and important issue.
"So often think that poor air quality is a city issue but actually it is very very critical here as well.
"The purpose of today is to share an understanding about the impact of air pollution, to look at some of the initiatives that are being proposed and what sort of solutions we can drive and what priorities we should have."
The Government has recently put aside a pot of money for authorities to bid for by early November.
This is to address air quality issues.
Mr Western said: "This is a huge opportunity for us to say 'we as Warwick and Leamington want to bid for this'.
"This is something tangible for us to be working towards."
County councillor Jonathan Chilvers (Green Party, Leamington Brunswick) added: "Polluted air in Leamington is dangerous. Tiny particulates get into
our bloodstream and our lungs and damage our health.
"As we heard from Oxford who are making progress, we can solve this issue together. We must prioritise putting cash into routes that make cycling and walking enjoyable for short journeys.
"I will continue to work hard with other parties to achieve the change we need.”