Tomorrow (Tuesday), East Lothian Council’s “Cabinet” will meet and among the items for discussion is a paper about Musselburgh High Street’s air pollution problem.
The paper recommends proceeding with the draft Action Plan, which I blogged about a couple of months back. (Spoiler alert: I wasn’t impressed!)
What the ELC Cabinet is being presented with is incredibly frustrating and shows how slow East Lothian Council have been in acting since I revealed the extent of this public health problem four years ago.
The report points out that a public consultation on a draft action plan was held late last year, yet the report doesn’t give details of the views received and I don’t see any evidence that the public have been listened to. The measures proposed are the same as those in the draft action plan, so the consultation appears to have carried no weight.
I’m astonished that some of measures are still being put forward, such as ‘provision of information regarding air quality and travel options.’ What does that even mean? Or ‘promotion of cycling and walking’, when the High Street has no dedicated cycling space.
Perhaps the worst suggestions are additional bus stops, when the council’s own consultants found that this would make no difference to vehicle emissions, and the erection of signs to raise awareness of the Air Quality Management Area. The real issue is preventing traffic coming through the town. It’s too late if drivers are already in the High Street, reading signs telling them about the pollution they’re causing!
The report makes clear that as well as needing to tackle the existing problem, the council needs to consider the impact of its Local Development Plan. The huge amount of housing proposed for around Musselburgh will undoubtedly worsen what is already a bad situation.
This is a really important issue for our community and clearly needs some fresh thinking. If I’m elected as one of Musselburgh’s four councillors on 4 May, I guarantee this issue will get the attention it deserves!