Tory Councillor Suggests Air Pollution Is Not A Problem in Bromley: Here’s Why He’s Wrong
On the very same day that the Government told Londoners to avoid strenuous physical activity due to “very high” levels of pollution, one of Bromley Town’s Conservative Councillors tweeted, “Great to see the London Borough of Bromley as a sea of green - cleanest air in London, you know!”, alongside a screenshot from Breathe London showing predominantly green numbers for Bromley. So who’s right – the Government or Bromley Town’s Conservative Councillor? From the Councillor’s Tweet it is implied, and you would think, Bromley has great air quality – this article sets out why that is misleading.
Firstly, two facts about the data the Councillor is quoting:
- Bromley has one air monitor providing live data for the whole borough, yes – that’s a single live monitor for the largest Borough in London (area of 150km2). You can see why that might be a problem - one air monitor is not sufficient to provide good coverage of the whole of Bromley borough and where you put it impacts the data significantly.
- Levels of air pollution vary significantly day-to-day depending on traffic/congestion as well as prevailing weather conditions (strong winds disperse pollution more quickly, whereas static high pressure and humidity have the opposite effect). So on any given day a monitor can tell a different story – a snapshot on a particular day is not representative, you need averages and a network of monitors to get an accurate picture of levels of air pollution.
So that puts the data in context. So why do Bromley Liberal Democrats think there is an air pollution problem in Bromley? Our key points are:
- According to research from Imperial College, Bromley suffers the highest number deaths attributable to air pollution in the whole of London, mainly due to the higher proportion of elderly people who are more vulnerable to air pollution. Whilst the outer Boroughs of London have lower levels of air pollution compared to inner Boroughs, it is still a significant problem - causing many respiratory problems for residents and contributing to the early deaths of many people. Having a population with more vulnerable people within it also means even levels of air pollution lower than central London Boroughs can still be very harmful to many of Bromley’s residents.
- One of the most harmful pollutants is small particulate matter, 2.5 microns in size (PM2.5), which can pass through the lungs into the bloodstream and affect other organs. The WHO have classified these particles as cancer-causing and states that the annual average exposure should be no more than 5mg per cubic metre. On the same day our Bromley Councillor tweeted (14 Jan) Bromley Lib Dem’s network of 16 monitors across Bromley Borough (freshairbromley.org.uk) showed that the PM2.5 24hr average was more than double the WHO guidelines. So you can see why we are sceptical about the council’s grand claims about air quality – if you only have one monitor, drawing conclusions is fraught with problems and, frankly, misleading.
So – what would the Lib Dems do differently? Well, we would:
- Vastly increase the number of air monitors to monitor air pollution across the Borough effectively - so we have good data, know where problems are and can make tailored solutions to reduce pollution in the worst affected areas.
- Encourage cycling and walking across our Borough to reduce car use. We need to make it easier and safer for residents to make the choice to cycle or walk instead of taking the car. If we increase active travel rates it will be better for our health, and better for the environment. The current council is not doing anywhere near enough.
- Reduce emissions by improving public transport provision and improving electric vehicle charging infrastructure (Bromley is falling behind on this with only half as many EV charging points per 100,000 people compared to all other outer London boroughs).
So, does Bromley have an air pollution problem? In short, yes it does – like much of the rest of London. That’s why it is irresponsible to be suggesting that air quality is not a problem in Bromley. If you want to change the council’s dismissive attitude on air pollution the best way to do that is to elect local champions who really care about air pollution in Bromley’s local elections on 5 May 2022.
Make sure you register to vote in plenty of time and then get out and vote on 5 May! Together we can change this.
And if you're interested in the subject of air quality in Bromley why not attend our public meeting on Friday 4th February (by zoom or in person at Bromley Parish Church Hall) - see the details here.
Politicians are supposed to represent the people. But we have a government that the majority of the country didn’t vote for. 56.4% of voters in 2019 backed parties other than the Conservatives.
Our decaying electoral system shuts out too many from our democracy. This isn’t about political point-scoring. It’s about making sure everyone’s voice is heard.
First Past the Post cheats voters out of real, meaningful representation. It favours the two major parties and concentrates politicians’ attention on the tiny minority of seats which may change hands in any given election. It allows huge swathes of the country to be ignored and silenced by a political system that is supposed to represent them.
The Lib Dems are the only party working this hard to change our electoral system so that everyone has a voice. This week we tabled a Proportional Representation amendment in the Commons.
If you believe in proportional representation back the Lib Dems campaign here.
Just days after trumpeting their success in refusing planning permission to the large block proposed for the site of Maplins in Bromley High Street, Conservative Councillors have quietly (in written answers to Lib Dem questions) confirmed that they will be proceeding with the ‘Churchill Quarter’ - two rows of giant tower blocks opposite the Churchill Theatre, far worse and far more damaging than the Maplins proposal.
This scheme is the brainchild of the Conservatives at Bromley Council. They plan to buy the land by compulsory purchase orders, and present the plans developed by their partners Countryside Properties "in the near future" - but presumably after the May election. The local Tories say they're opposed to the development - but if they are, why don't they just stop it now?
What are your views about high rise developments like this in our High Street? Fill in our survey to let us know your opinion.
The Churchill Quarter development comprises two rows of giant tower blocks up to 15 storeys high, bringing potentially over 1,200 new residents into the centre of Bromley without any increase in funding for local services. The blocks will cast a permanent shadow over both Church House Gardens and Library Gardens with retail units opening onto the gardens. It will change the look and feel of our town forever.
The Conservatives' plan is to use compulsory purchase orders to buy the residential properties in Ethelbert Close. They have paid the Development Company Countryside Properties to draw up the plans and undertake a consultation with local people. The detailed plans are due to be submitted to Bromley Council after the elections in May. Effectively Bromley Council are the developers of this project, and they will be considering whether to give their own scheme planning approval.
Historic England have warned " ... the proposed development would cause harm to the significance of the Bromley Town Centre Conservation Area as a result of its overly dominant scale and massing.”
If they wanted to the Conservatives could stop the project in its tracks. Right now. Without waiting until after the elections in May.
They could pause it to consider alternatives that are more in keeping with our town, that do not damage the conservation area, that protect our green spaces, and provide more affordable homes for Bromley families.
The Lib Dems want to see a limit on the height of new developments in Bromley. We want a focus on affordable homes for local families and a reinvigorated High Street with improved services for new and existing residents.
Bromley is set to be hit particularly hard by the expected rise in energy bills in April, new figures have revealed, with most residents paying an extra £51 per month. The Lib Dems are calling for a one-off "Robin Hood" tax from oil and gas giants to fund an emergency package of support.
Analysis by the Liberal Democrats shows that the average yearly bill for homeowners in Bromley is set to skyrocket by £612 — the equivalent of £51 a month — once the new energy price cap comes into effect.
This is above the forecasted national average uplift in bills for each household of £598 per year, meaning people in Bromley are set to be hit harder than most across the country.
Bromley Liberal Democrats are calling for a one-off ‘Robin Hood’ tax on the super-profits of oil and gas giants, to fund an emergency package of support for local residents facing eye-watering increases to their heating bills.
This would include the doubling and expansion of the Warm Home Discount to those in receipt of Universal Credit or Pension Credit, giving 26,985 households in Bromley £300 each off their heating bills this year.
The Liberal Democrats are also calling for the doubling of the Winter Fuel Allowance to be doubled, helping Bromley pensioners in the area keep their homes warm.
Sam Webber, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Bromley Town, said:
“These figures reveal that people in Bromley are facing eye-watering increases to their energy bills in April, while the Government is just sitting on its hands. Many pensioners and other local residents are already deeply worried about their next heating bill landing on their doormats. The Liberal Democrats have set out a clear plan to give thousands of people in our area £300 each off their heating bills this year. "
"It’s time Boris Johnson stopped taking our local communities for granted and offered families the support they need to cope with energy price hikes.”
Liberal Democrat Leader and former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:
“Families are facing an energy bill nightmare, while the Government is asleep at the wheel. They’ve failed to do anything to protect vulnerable people from this cost of living crisis.
“Liberal Democrats are calling for the doubling and expansion of the Warm Home Discount Scheme and the doubling of the Winter Fuel Payments to protect vulnerable people this winter. This would be funded by a one-off ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on the super-profits of gas and oil companies and traders who are raking it in hand over fist.”
Responding to DCMS Secretary Nadine Dorries' comments regarding the future of the BBC, Liberal Democrat Jamie Stone MP said:
“This latest Tory attack on the BBC threatens to destroy a service which is respected around the world for its high quality content. Freezing the license fee represents a stealth cut of almost £2 billion that will put services, including local radio stations and children's programming, at risk. What’s worse, there is no clarity about the future and threadbare funding will only further chip away at our cherished national broadcaster. Our world leading creative industries support thousands of jobs, but Nadine Doris only cares about trying to silence unfavourable headlines. The Government must stop this reckless ideological crusade and back off our BBC.”
A strong, politically independent BBC plays a key role in our democracy, our creative industries, and our daily lives. The Conservatives’ war with the BBC is no secret. Dominic Cumming’s think tank described the BBC as the Conservatives’ “mortal enemy”. This Government has forced the cost of free licenses for over-75s onto the BBC.
Our public service broadcaster is an asset to this country. It delivers diverse, cultural and accessible programming that would not otherwise get made by private broadcasters. The BBC’s funding model allows it to take risks with its creative output, nurturing up and coming British talent. As one of the top four most recognised British brands internationally, the BBC helps promote the UK around the world.
This Conservative Government do not seem to have any respect for British institutions... not the Queen, nor the NHS, nor the BBC. They cannot be trusted to undertake funding reform of our precious BBC.