Transport hub and clean air zone among ideas shared at summit to tackle pollution problems in Leamington and Warwick

Introducing a ‘clean air zone and a transport hub were among the ideas shared in an event aimed at working towards a "comprehensive solution" to Leamington and Warwick's air quality problems.’

The Air Quality Summit, chaired by Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western, was held at Leamington town hall last Friday (October 11).

A vision of Bath Street in Leamington developed by Clean Air for Leamington Spa and credited to Wood.

A vision of Bath Street in Leamington developed by Clean Air for Leamington Spa and credited to Wood.

The speakers included Mr Western who gave an introduction and talk on proposals for a transport hub in Leamington and concluding remarks.

They also included public health consultant Dr Nadia Inglis who spoke on the public health impact of poor air quality, Dr OLiver Lawton on getting active and the health economy, Adrian Hart and Alan Law on Warwickshire County Council's current initiatives, the challenges of air pollution and the opportunities for change, Professor Reza Ziarati on the need for an independent office for monitoring air quality locally and other solutions, Cllr Alex Hollingsworth of Oxford City Council on the zero emission zone in the city and Annabel Precious of Clean Air for Leamington on the vision for sustainable transport in the town.

The audience were also invited to ask the panel questions and contribute to the discussion.

A World Health Organisation report placed Leamington among the 31 most polluted areas in the country, with hotspots often registering the worst air quality.

A vision of Rugby Road in Leamington developed by Clean Air for Leamington Spa and credited to Wood.

A vision of Rugby Road in Leamington developed by Clean Air for Leamington Spa and credited to Wood.

Cllr Alex Hollingsworth spoke about the experiences of Oxford City and County council’s, and the two authorities' successes in introducing a zero emission zone in the city centre.

They have already installed more charging points for electric vehicles and are looking to expand the emission zone.

Annie Precious, from Clean Air for Leamington, set out the group's vision to make the town's streets healthier.

Its proposals include more cycleways and bike parking and introducing a clean air zone, which would enforce non-idling policies, 20mph zones and give cyclists priority in certain areas.

Mr Western spoke about his vision for a Leamington Transport Hub, which would “transform Leamington’s approach to sustainable transport and improve connectivity".

The Transport Hub project, based at Leamington Train Station, would create a multi-storey carpark with electric vehicle charging points, an electric bus interchange, bicycle storage, and a rented cycle scheme similar to London’s Santander scheme.

Speaking about the event, Mr Wesrern said: “It was a huge success.

"There was a great deal of enthusiasm among attendees to introduce ambitious initiatives to tackle air pollution as a matter of urgency.”

“This event was very much the start of a collaborative process. I have written to all those involved and have approached Warwick District Council about how we work together to develop these ideas and deliver the plans to ensure they will work in Warwick and Leamington.

"Crucially, I would like these proposals to be presented to all residents through an open consultation exercise.

“I will continue to work alongside councillors and groups like Clean Air for Leamington to ensure that we introduce the changes residents want to see.”

A spokesperson from Warwickshire County Council said: "Warwickshire County Council is working on a range of schemes across Warwick and Leamington to help improve air quality. #

"This includes infrastructure schemes to encourage walking and cycling, as well as working with local businesses to encourage the take up of car sharing. Residents can sign up to car sharing as well by visiting www.carsharecoventryandwarwickshire.com.

"The County Council has also launched a joint campaign with Coventry City Council, launched in August 2017, to encourage people to make small changes in travel behaviours, leaving vehicles at home for just one day a week, or one or two short trips a week.

"The main campaign website allows people to plan their journeys actively, and also provides information about Air Quality in Coventry and Warwickshire. The website can be found at: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/activetravel

"The Northgate scheme in Warwick is another example of the work we're doing to encourage a change in behaviour by improving walking connections to the town centre.

"Further improvements are proposed for the town centre, including safer, wider paths for pedestrians to encourage walking as a safe means of getting around Warwick."