Islington Council accused of ignoring dangerous pollution warning

The town hall has been condemned for refusing to act on figures revealing dangerous levels of air pollution.

As the Gazette reported in November, research by Islington’s Green Party has shown that levels of nitrogen dioxide, which can cause breathing difficulties, are double the recommend limit in parts of the borough.

At last week’s full council meeting, the Green Party’s Caroline Allen asked Cllr Paul Smith, executive member for environment, to consider scrapping the Roamer parking scheme, arguing that reducing car journeys would help tackle the problem.

But she was infuriated by Cllr Smith’s response, which was to say that the council would take no action because it had “real issues” to deal with, and that air pollution was just part of “living in an inner-city borough”.

Ms Allen, who shouted “shame” at him during the proceedings, said she had been offended by how Cllr Smith spoke to her and disappointed with his answer. She said: “I was shocked and the chamber was shocked. “He talked right over me. It’s really insulting, but I find he can be quite dismissive. He shouted me down at a council meeting last year.

“He thinks the Greens are people with nothing better to do, even though I am full-time vet, so I didn’t have great expectations.

“But because this is a serious health issue, based on properly validated research, I thought I would get a reasonable response.

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“It’s unbelievably damaging to Labour’s green credentials. Catherine West said nice words at her brief appearance at a the Camden air-quality summit. Has she changed her mind?”

Cllr Smith said: “The Green Party are a tiny group that are out of touch with Islington residents. The Roamer is a very good scheme that is very popular with Islington residents and makes their lives easier.

“In terms of the environment, our main concern is fuel poverty and people who are cold. We are spending a lot of money replacing boilers in homes and we are building an environmental power station in Bunhill.

“I gave Ms Allen direct answers and I am on the side of working Islington people. I don’t apologise for supporting the scheme.”