THERE are urgent calls to tackle air quality in Lewisham after it frequently ranked as one of the worst three London boroughs for air pollution-related deaths, according to new stats.
The main causes of death – all linked with air pollution – in London were heart attacks, chronic lower respiratory disease, strokes, dementia and lung cancer, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
The study, commissioned by campaign group Clean Air in London, showed Lewisham appeared 14 times as one of the worst three boroughs for the top ten causes of death between 2010 and 2012.
Lewisham’s Lib Dem group is now calling for action to prevent a “wealth of health problems” further down the line.
Cllr Julia Fletcher, Lib Dem councillor for Downham ward, said: “These new findings are a call to action, and I must ask why the council is so keen to avoid this issue.
“We must take simple measures to tackle this problem and make sure that our residents are breathing clean air, or face a wealth of health problems in the population further down the line.”
But Lewisham Council cabinet member for customer services Councillor Susan Wise insists the Labour Group is not avoiding the issue and has submitted a motion on air quality to next Wednesday’s (January 22) full council meeting.
Cllr Wise said: “Lewisham Council takes air pollution very seriously, regularly monitoring air quality across the borough.
“Areas which fail to meet expected standards are designated as Air Quality Management Areas and action to improve air quality is taken.
“The Coalition Government attempted to make changes to local Air Quality Management and was widely criticised for hiding the facts about air pollution.
“The Government have announced a further review, completely failing to take any action on this important issue.
“The Mayor of London has the major responsibility for air quality in the capital but has not made any effort to improve it since coming to office. Most of the air pollution within an urban area such as London arises from car emission.
“His priority should be to get cars off the road by reducing public transport fares. Unfortunately, the Mayor has seen fit to increase bus fares by 60% since 2008.
“The Labour Group has submitted a motion on air quality to next week’s Council meeting. Far from avoiding this issue we wish it to be debated in full with all of the facts in front of us. The Liberal Democrats are simply proposing things that already happen.”
The volunteers took to the streets to highlight the “disastrous impact” the £4.2 billion Thames Water sewer project could have on pollution levels at the proposed site in Crossfields Green, which is close to St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School.
Don’t Dump on Deptford campaigner and Labour council candidate for New Cross, Joe Dromey, said: “This will rob us of one of the few leafy open spaces in Deptford.
“Hundreds of noisy, dirty and polluting dump trucks will clog our streets and further pollute the local environment.
“It will be intolerable for pupils at St Joseph’s and Tidemill, worshippers at St Paul’s, businesses on the High Street and the residents of Crossfields.
“The tests we’re doing will demonstrate to the Planning Inspectorate the disastrous impact this will have on our community and show them they need to think again.”
The Planning Inspectorate is currently examining the case for the location of the super sewer and a decision is expected by early autumn this year.