Bromley Council Environment Committee met on Tuesday evening (28th Aug) and agreed to begin an education and enforcement programme to encourage car drivers to turn off their engines when stationary. A welcome initiative which was marred by the council refusing to let members of the public ask questions that had already been submitted and accepted, and when members of Extinction Rebellion stood up to make their case anyway the council suspended the meeting and all councillors (apart from Ian Dunn) left the room.
A member of Extinction Rebellion had filed a question asking the council to declare a climate emergency. However, because the portfolio holder was sick the Council refused to let any member of the public ask any question at the meeting. The members of XR in the room (approx 10) then stood up one by one and each read a sentence from their joint statement. As soon as they started, the council suspended the meeting and all councillors left the room with the exception of Cllr Ian Dunn.
Lib Dem Julie Ireland who was at the meeting said it was unacceptable for members of the public to be told at the last minute that they could not ask their properly filed questions because the portfolio holder was absent, and absurd that there was no deputy available who could answer their questions on his behalf. "The members of Extinction Rebellion made their statement respectfully and eloquently and it is a shame that none of the councillors (except Cllr Dunn) stayed to listen to their views once the meeting was suspended."
The council's decision to start an education and enforcement programme against car idling is very welcome, but we're keen to see a lot more action sooner than planned. It is a one year pilot, and only involves 2 enforcement officers who will be paying particular attention to schools. They will struggle to cover the entire borough. However they will wear air monitors to monitor the air quality near these schools, it's as yet unclear whether the monitors will provide information on PM2.5 as well as NO2. But as the council currently fails to monitor air quality in the borough we're pleased at this small step to rectify the situation, we hope the data will be made publicly available and we're pressing for further clarification on the air monitors to be used.