Councillors are sceptical over proposals to improve air quality

HYDE councillors were sceptical of some proposals to improve air quality for Greater Manchester residents.

They voiced their concerns at a meeting of the South Strategic Neighbourhood Forum at Hyde Town Hall.

It followed a presentation by Emma Varnam, assistant director of operations and neighbourhood, on proposals for a Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan.

The presentation was part of a consultation a ‘clean air conversation’ in the build up to making Greater Manchester a clean air zone in two phases from 2021 and 2023, subject to Government approval.

Owners of the most polluting vehicles would pay a daily penalty to enter and/or travel within the clean air zone.

This would include some buses, coaches, lorries, vans, taxis, private hire vehicles, motorhomes and horseboxes. It would not include cars, other than private hire vehicles, motorbikes and mopeds.

Cllr Jim Fitzpatrick

Cllr Jim Fitzpatrick questioned how effective the clean air plan will be as it does not include motorways.

He said: “Drivers can use the M60 and then then loop round Hyde on the M67 without incurring charges.

“It is not a clean air policy if it does not include motorways and trunk roads.”

To encourage drivers to buy electric cars, the clean air plans also proposes a further 600 rapid charging points across Tameside and the other nine council areas of Greater Manchester, triple the current number.

Again Cllr Fitzpatrick was unconvinced, explaining: “Most of the property in Tameside is terraced so if they don’t have somewhere to charge it is not going to happen.

“Cars are parked on streets and pavements so how are people going to charge their vehicles if they are electric.”

Cllr Fitzpatrick also raised the issue of charging taxi drivers saying many would escape as they are registered in other areas, even as far afield as Wolverhampton.

“We need a national strategy to cover the points I have raised. If the Government is serious about it, it needs to put some serious money into it,” he declared.

Cllr Jacqueline Owen

Cllr Jacqueline Owen, who uses public transport, asked those present how many knew it was ‘Catch The Bus Week’.

She said: “I challenged my friends to use the bus for one day but they told me they weren’t accessible, didn’t run where they wanted to go and were too expensive.

“There is no bus route from Hollingworth to Hyde without having to go to either Stalybridge or Ashton and having to change.

“Public transport has to be affordable, run where people want to go and be accessible.”

Cllr Phil Chadwick raised the issue of building on greenbelt which was not helping when “large swathes are being concreted over”.

Cllr Phil Chadwick

Cllr Fitzpatrick replied by saying the Government insists 300,000 new homes are built each year.

He said: “You cannot put flats in town centres. It didn’t work in the 1960s when people were shoved into tower blocks.

“We have to build more houses but need a plan or people will be able to build anywhere.”

In her presentation, Mrs Varnam explained there are more than 150 stretches of road in the borough that breach legal limits for emissions of nitrogen dioxide.

These include the major roundabout in Denton and roundabout near Ashton Police Station.

Pollution from road traffic is estimated to cause the death of 140 people annually in Greater Manchester while there is also an increase of asthma cases among children in towns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *