Owner of MillerStationery critical of council after opting to close business of 46 years due to health impact of town centre traffic
An Essex business owner who has campaigned for measures to improve air quality in Colchester has criticised his local authority after claiming that high levels of air pollution in the area have forced him to close his business.
Steve Miller, owner of MillerStationery, which has been present in Colchester town centre for almost 50 years, says that the level of air pollution in the town is likely to have caused damage to his health.
And, the shopkeeper has called for Essex and Colchester county and borough councils to reinstate the trial of an 18 month ban on through traffic – a measure intended to improve the town’s air quality- which began in early 2013 but ended after only three weeks after opposition from residents.
Mr Miller, who plans to sell all his remaining stock and close his business by Christmas, said: “Colchester has been waiting for 40 years for through traffic to be removed from the town centre. That’s what Balkerne Hill and Southway were for.
“I backed the 18-month town centre trial. For the three weeks it ran, the buses were running well and the air was far cleaner – Colchester was no longer breaking EU law with its pollution levels. The trial should have continued with changes being made as necessary.
“Now we find that nothing will be put back in place until late 2014. I can’t afford to wait any longer. My heart and lungs are suffering and the doctors say the thick fumes are most likely to blame. I could be dead before any improvements are implemented.â€?
Mr Miller has collected around 700 signatures calling for the resumption of the trial, and has accused councillors of ‘lacking commitment to Colchester’ in reversing the ban, and questioned whether the council would have the will to implement other measures to improve air quality in the town.
He added: “They should have fought – but instead they wasted public money. We could be enjoying a far better town centre now, with more shoppers, more tourists – and it would have less traffic noise and cleaner air.â€?
Responding to Mr Miller’s comments a Colchester borough council spokesman said that the council was currently exploring options to address concerns over air quality.
He said: “Earlier this year Mr Miller carried out his own measurements of particulate matter in his shop. These measurements showed that the levels of particulate matter were within European guidance values.
“To address Mr Miller’s concerns the Council has applied to Defra for further grant funding to develop a delivery strategy and to carry out further particulate monitoring in town centre locations in accordance with Local Air Quality Management Guidelines.
“We monitor nitrogen dioxide levels at various sites throughout the town centre. The town centre traffic proposals experiment did not last long enough to produce meaningful results and at this stage of the year all the data obtained would be considered to be raw.”