About 20 people attended Southwark Green Party’s monthly meet-up on 7 September, which this month was held at John the Unicorn, Peckham Rye. Eleanor Margolies organised an informal quiz on the subject of air pollution – an urgent issue in Southwark, which has the highest rate of premature deaths attributable to air pollution of any London borough. We learnt
that living in London is equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day (or possibly more, if you live in Southwark!), and that ambulance drivers are among those in our city most exposed to air pollution, because of their long hours spent in traffic, and the subsequent high levels of pollutants inside their vehicles. We talked about the disproportionate effect of air pollution on the poorest communities.
Discussion then moved on to ways in which SGP could put pressure on Southwark Council to take action. We would like the council to extend its new responsibility for public health to include combating air pollution; it should be holding a public consultation on this, as is happening in Lambeth. We noted that the council has failed to follow up on SGP’s previous recommendations, including failing to notify headteachers on days when air pollution levels are high.
We would like Transport for London to take its oldest and dirtiest buses out of service, and will look at organising a petition to put pressure on TfL to act. Another idea discussed was a comparative study, for example measuring pollution levels on main roads and quieter roads, such as those used for cycle routes.