Islington Council accused of hypocrisy as nearly 9 in 10 vehicles in fleet run on diesel

Cllr Russell: 'It's not OK to have one rule for residents and another for the council'

Cllr Russell: 'It's not OK to have one rule for residents and another for the council' - Credit: Archant

“Poisonous” vehicles that are contributing to scores of deaths in the borough each year make up 88 per cent of Islington Council’s fleet.

Cllr Claudia Webbe

Cllr Claudia Webbe - Credit: Archant

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that 333 of the council’s 378 vehicles run on the health-damaging fuel.

Diesel fumes have been linked to various deadly diseases and the council has asked the Mayor of London to remove high polluting buses and lorries from the borough’s streets, as well as imposing extra charges for diesel car owners from April.

But the dominance of diesel among council vehicles, from cars to bin lorries, shows the town hall is yet to get its own fleet in order – although it said it is looking into how to move away from diesel.

Cllr Caroline Russell, the council’s Green Party opposition, said: “It is crucial that the council sets out a clear timetable to update its own fleet. Refuse collection trucks are complex and investment in different fuel storage adds to the challenge, but it is not OK to have one rule for residents and another for the council.

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“But the council is right to give a clear signal that diesel vehicles are not suitable for city driving.

“The latest evidence shows that even diesel vehicles with the newest exhaust emission technology are still damaging to human health. The health of Islington residents must be protected.”

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From April the council will charge residents with diesel cars £95 more for their annual parking permits, five times the charge currently imposed by any other London borough.

Neighbouring Hackney will charge drivers with the most polluting cars £50 a year more for permits but the full charge will not come in until 2017.

James Rice, of Morton Road, Islington, says he can’t afford to change his car and is set to be hit by the diesel surcharge in April. He has accused the council of double standards.

“In running an 88 per cent diesel fleet, by their own logic, they’re knowingly contributing to the deaths of their own residents,” said Mr Rice, 34.

“The hypocrisy is astounding.

“Why not use a bit of common sense and delay the charge a year or two so people can change their cars to non-diesel – instead of punishing those of us who were encouraged to go diesel a few years ago by the government, and can’t just buy a new car on the whim of the local council.”

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said the town hall had one of the cleanest council fleets in London but was committed to further improvement.

“We’re currently exploring various options with regards to moving away from diesel vehicles in the future by exploring what the market has to offer, and watching future developments,” she said.

“The surcharge will help encourage a move away from diesel.”

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