Westminster Tories engine idling
Westminster Tories engine idling

Westminster’s Conservative Council Refuses to Take Action on Air Pollution

Under a recent Freedom of Information request, Bayswater Labour Candidate Max Sullivan has uncovered that Conservative-run Westminster City Council has issued just 1 fine for every 1,112 reports of unnecessary engine idling since 2017.

Over the 5-year period, over 70,000 incidents were reported to the Tory Council, but a mere 63 fines were handed out.

Of these, just over half have actually been paid, meaning just 1 fine was issued and paid for every 2,061 reports of unnecessary engine idling.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that Westminster Council has quietly ceased work its ‘Don’t be idle’ campaign that was launched with much fanfare ahead of the 2018 Council elections.

Max Sullivan, Labour candidate for Bayswater ward said:

“Westminster Conservatives talk a good talk on air quality, but this discovery shows that their words are empty. The lack of tough action on engine idling by the Council is appalling and will be disappointing news to residents across Westminster who are worried about air pollution. This data shows that instead of cracking down on unnecessary engine idling resulting in toxic fumes, the Conservative-run Council has created a free-for-all, issuing just 63 fines, only 34 of which were paid, in response to 70,000 reported incidents. It is clear that the Conservatives were wasting the time of the thousands of residents who tried to help by reporting engine idling. The Council was clearly taking them for fools”

“In the Bayswater area alone the Conservative-run Council has issued just 2 fines for engine idling from 2017 to now – and neither of these were paid.”

The Freedom of Information request shows:

  • 70,095 incidents of unnecessary engine idling were reported to Westminster City Council between January 2017 and February 16th 2022.
  • This number is likely to represent just a fraction of the real scale of the problem in Westminster, given this is the number of times residents or Council officers have reported the issue to the Council.
  • Westminster City Council issued 63 fines for unnecessary engine idling over the same period, between January 2017 to February 16th 2022.
  • Of the 63 fines issued, just 34 of these were paid.
  • Research by Imperial College London estimates that air pollution contributed to around 4,100 deaths in London in 2019.
  • Air pollution is particularly damaging to the health of children, as it can stunt lung growth and affect lung capacity.
  • A 2021 study by TRL found that idling for a 30-second period produces nearly twice as much pollution as switching off then restarting the engine.

If elected on Thursday the 5th of May, a Labour-run Westminster Council will clean up our air.

Our ten point plan will:

  1. ​Crack down on engine idling with fines for those unnecessarily polluting our streets, ending years of inaction by the Westminster Conservatives.
  2. Make it easier and safer to walk and cycle in our city. Investing in improved pavements, more zebra crossings, more cycle hanger parking and where appropriate protected cycle lanes to promote carbon-free active travel.
  3. Take action to prevent the use of small residential streets as rat runs for cars.
  4. Work with residents to identify new places for creating pocket parks.
  5. Work with local businesses to reduce their emissions, for example by encouraging freight and delivery consolidation, and decarbonising the Council’s district heating systems.
  6. Accelerate tree planting. The Tories have delivered just 10% of the tree planting they promised. Additional tree cover will not only improve our air but reduce the impact of the heat waves which are becoming more common.
  7. Dramatically increase the number of new electric vehicle charging points being rolled out across Westminster.
  8. Require car sharing operators to replace their fleet in Westminster with electrified vehicles and encourage on-demand food delivery companies to use bicycles instead of scooters.
  9. Work with residents and Transport for London to ensure the public transport system in our city is fit for purpose and reducing pollution by encouraging residents to switch to less carbon-intensive modes of travel.
  10. Expand the Council’s automatic air monitoring to include a wider range of areas (like Bayswater) so consistent data is available on how successful the above efforts are.
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