GMB call on Government to develop pollution strategy as Southampton City Council consider clean air zone charge
Decisions on pollution prevention should be evidence based, not made to subsidise local council services because of government underfunding, says GMB Southern
GMB have called on the Government to develop a nationwide strategy to deal with pollution as Southampton City Council have been consulting on whether they should introduce a "clean air zone" charging £12.50 per day for a car and £100 for a commercial vehicle.
At a joint-union meeting held on Friday by the organisation ‘Hazards’, a union-friendly health and safety magazine, GMB challenged the council’s proposal. Despite understanding the council is under pressure to raise revenue, GMB are very concerned that a ‘clean air zone’ will be a huge cost placed on the people of Southampton and will impact on many businesses including GMB members who are taxi drivers.
GMB believe the government need to develop a nationwide strategy and take responsibility, rather than leaving it to local councils.
Barry Beaven, GMB Branch Secretary for Southampton said: "The people of Southampton are worried that Government will use the pollution issue to impose charges of £12.50 per car and £100 per commercial vehicle upon the drivers of Southampton
"Pollution is not just a local issue and to try to move the pollution or defer it does not give us remedy for the future. If Southampton can do anything to make a change perhaps this can be used as a model for the rest of the country.
"Decisions on pollution prevention should be evidence based, not made to subsidise local council services because of government underfunding."
"People equate pollution with black smoke rising from Dark Satanic Mills but in modern times the pollutants are too small for us to see but are still highly toxic.
"Ian Hall the GMB Branch Transport Officer is meeting with DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) on Monday to raise the issues on behalf of the Taxi drivers of Southampton but we have yet to see a global approach which remedies pollution more than levying indirect taxation."
Alan Fraser, Chair of Southampton Labour Party told Friday’s meeting: "We are talking to the Local Authority but are well aware that the majority of the answers are beyond their control, central government will not give either the power nor the money to help make these changes. All they want to do is move the responsibility and the blame.
"This does not mean that we should stand by and let our children inherit a polluted planet, we need to let give the knowledge and power to the people of Southampton to make a difference."
Ian Woodland, Unite Acting Regional Secretary added: "There is always a balance to be between jobs and the damage that these jobs do. We want to help members and workers be safe and reduce the impact of their jobs on the environment in which they work.
"Unite will work with the other Unions and interested parties to improve the levels of pollution within Southampton and surrounding areas will protecting the jobs and industries of the city."
All the Unions agreed to meet again before the upcoming Public Meeting organised by Hampshire Climate Action Network.
Contact: Barry Beaven 07961 575 524 or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114 762
Notes to Editors:
Hampshire Climate Action network, a voice against air pollution across the Solent/Hampshire area are holding a meeting on: Saturday 17 November 2018, at 10.15- 1.00 (refreshments from 9.55), in the Main Hall, Friends Meeting House, 1a Ordnance Road, Southampton, SO15 2AZ