Air quality – a story to choke on

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Queuing traffic on London Road

On London Road sitting in traffic? Or perhaps queuing going up Crown Hill, then again you could be on Rawreth Lane queuing to turn into Hullbridge – all of these are familiar commuter routes that we all endure. Getting from A to B in and around Rayleigh has become slower and slower with some residents reporting journey times of 1hour to get from Down Hall Road to Rayleigh Weir ‘for no apparent reason’.

All these cars on our roads have led to Rochford District Council declaring in February 2015,  Rayleigh Town Centre becoming an air quality management area (AQMA) due to the levels of  vehicle exhaust emissions. More than 18 months on, the air quality targets are NOT being met. I’ve questioned why London Road, Down Hall Road & Rawreth Lane are not included in the AQMA as we all see the volume of traffic queuing on these roads frequently. Is it because the council’s own policy restricts new residential development in air quality management areas. Apparently these areas were destined for extra development in the ‘core strategy’, so they were not included in the AQMA! This seems to us to be the wrong way round!

Air pollution has a major impact on human health. It is associated with a range of deadly diseases including cancer, heart disease, strokes and asthma, and is the number one environmental cause of death in the eu, responsible for over 400,000 early deaths in 2010 alone. [Source: www.clientearth.org]

We, the Lib Dems are vigorously challenging the council’s approach to air quality measurements. We believe that every resident is entitled to clean air and not just in selected areas. The council’s existing data on pollution is a minimum required standard.  We want the best for our residents and we propose that more areas are monitored for pollution and over a longer period of time. Our council needs to up its game and exceed the expectations of all our residents.

Lib Dem legend Richard Boyd

richardboydWith great sadness we advise that Richard Boyd, one of the leading lights among local Liberal Democrats during the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond, passed away on 2nd October.

Richard was a great Councillor who built up the Liberals, as they were then, from one Councillor (the late lamented Bernard Crick), to the large group who eventually took control of Rochford District Council. By that time he had moved to Essex County Council where he also lead the Liberal Democrats into power in a coalition with Labour.

He was an intelligent, genial and quick-witted leader, a friend to all the team and respected by all. Richard was a great communicator, ever popular with the residents for whom he worked so hard. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Richard was born in India in 1945. He created and ran his own aviation supplies business and had well over thirty years in politics as a councillor (district, county and then parish) in Rayleigh for over 29 years. He was chairman of the Essex Police Authority, becoming a Deputy Lieutenant for Essex (1998), and an Alderman in 2006. He ran Disability Essex for more than a decade, for which – and for much more – he was awarded an OBE. More recently he was a member of mental health and employment tribunals.

Richard leaves his wife Maureen and a broader family to whom our thoughts go out at this sad time.