Shock as Newcastle Council Leader admits there's no Plan B on city's air quality crisis - only the Liberal Democrats have alternative proposals

September 18, 2019 12:46 PM
Cllr Colin FergusonNewcastle's Opposition Liberal Democrats have been left shocked after the Labour Leader of Council admitted that there is no Plan B in the event that Government refuses to stump up the cash for the Council's clean air proposals. In response to question from Cllr Ferguson, Labour's Cllr Forbes has been forced to admit that their proposals would be halted, with no alternatives or contingency planning in place.
Cllr Ferguson expressed his surprise: "Another consultation with no plan from the Council's leadership about what to do if everyone doesn't agree to their plans. They're asking for £40m and the best they can do is say that if Government won't give them it, they'll sit and do nothing, whilst local residents rightly complain that their inaction is damaging public health right now. It's simply not good enough."
The Opposition fears that the Council's leadership is losing control over this vital issue for the City as they try once again to come up with workable proposals that meet legal requirements and satisfy the concerns of local residents. In a clearly pre-scripted attack, Cllr Ainsley, the portfolio lead for Transport and Air Quality, criticised the Opposition's alternative proposals, before claiming - in a surprise move - that many of them were under consideration by her team after all.
Cllr Gareth Kane, also attending a special meeting on behalf of the Opposition, said: "It's incoherent. Either our plans don't work or they do. I'm not left feeling that the Cabinet has a grip on the issues if they can't make up their mind if they like what we're suggesting!"
Responding to the Council's suggested closure of access to a number of arterial routes in the City, Cllr Kane expressed disbelief: "Surely they know this will simply drive traffic into residential streets, doing nothing more than bringing pollution to the people? Cllr Forbes tells us he knows this is a problem, but he's still going ahead and doing it anyway!"
The Opposition have put forward a credible, alternative ten-point plan, including transitioning to low emission buses and taxis, improving park and ride facilities, and designating mini Clean Air Zones around schools to improve the health of our City's children.