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Maidstone council accused of doing nothing to tackle idling car engines despite previous promises

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Green campaigner Stuart Jeffery is unhappy at Maidstone council's failure to take effective action to stop motorists sitting with their engines running.
He asked Cllr Paul Cooper (Con), the chairman of the council's strategic planning and infrastructure committee at a full council meeting on Wednesday to outline what measures were being taken to prevent vehicles idling in the borough.

The Maidstone council meeting was held at Mote Hall
The Maidstone council meeting was held at Mote Hall

Cllr Cooper told him: "The council already has in a place an Air Quality Management Area as well as an Air Quality Action Plan.

"While the current plan does not advocate the use of the enforcement powers available to the council, I am aware that these powers have previously been considered but at the the time they were judged not to be appropriate to use in terms of the likely quantum of penalty tickets issued and the allowable level of fines versus the cost of enforcement, coupled with the burden of evidence required.

"The council has instead focussed its efforts on educational initiatives to encourage drivers not to idle rather than using enforcement."

Mr Jeffrey told the council: "As I cycled here this evening, I passed as series of buses with their engines idling and the council's current strategy refers to buses idling as an area that would be tackled by the strategy, which clearly has failed.

"Given that the council has yet to take enforcement action, when will the council really take some material action to reduce pollution and to save lives from what is globally the world's biggest preventable killer, polution?"

Stuart Jeffery: We need action
Stuart Jeffery: We need action

Cllr Cooper said:"I'm confident that the council is already taking these matters seriously not as any particular action in itself, but in everything it does."

After the meeting Mr Jeffery said: "Since the council agreed its air quality plan in 2017 around 300 people in the borough have died prematurely as a result of air pollution, yet very little has changed.

"The council has made no reductions or material effort to reduce engine idling despite its promises.

"Buses and taxis continue to idle on the High Street and parents to idle their engines outside schools.

"This pollution hits the lungs of shoppers, children and residents."

Cll Paul Cooper: Confident
Cll Paul Cooper: Confident

He said: "Air pollution is the biggest global preventable killer and many of our schools have air pollution levels in excess of World Health Organisation limits.

"It is time that the council took the problem seriously including enforcing the law as other councils do. It must take real action to reduce pollution. People are dying."

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