London Assembly Labour Party brands comments on air pollution by Mayor of London as â€˜dangerously complacentâ€™
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has come under fire from the London Labour Party after playing down concerns over the capitalâ€™s air quality.
Much of southern England, including London, is currently experiencing high levels of pollution caused in part by dust blown over from the Sahara desert. This has led Public Health England to advise people with existing heart or lung conditions to reduce strenuous activity outdoors.
But, during an interview with ITV this morning (April 3), the mayor said that people needed to have a â€˜sense of proportionâ€™ over the pollution episode, adding that the conditions â€˜seemed perfectly fineâ€™ when he had cycled to work earlier in the day.
The mayor was quoted as saying to ITV Londonâ€™s Simon Harris: â€œI’m urging people just to have a little balance here, I cycled this morning and it seemed perfectly fine to me.
â€œI think we need to keep a little bit of a sense of proportion. I cycled perfectly happily around today. I understand asthmatics and people who are particularly vulnerable perhaps need to be cautious but there’s no reason why people shouldn’t go about their daily lives.â€
Responding to the comments Onkar Sahota, London Assembly Labour Group health spokesman, accused the mayor of failing to take a lead on air quality.
He said: â€œThe mayorâ€™s comments are dangerously complacent, the London Ambulance Service has seen a 14% increase in people calling them with breathing problems. In 2008 Boris promised to make London the greenest city in the world.
â€œInstead, weâ€™ve seen wasted opportunities and wasted money. Instead of retro-fitting the entire fleet of over 8,000 London buses to make them less polluting, he has bought just a few hundred new â€˜RouteMastersâ€™. Boris might be alright, but Londonâ€™s asthmatics are suffering.â€
Dr Sahota also claimed that the current air pollution episode, which is being experienced across London and much of the South East of the UK, should act as a â€˜wake up callâ€™ for the mayor to act on air quality.
He added: â€œBoris needs to take action and show real leadership on this issue. He needs to play his part in tackling our cityâ€™s silent killer which causes over 4,000 deaths a year. He should bring forward his Ultra Low Emission Zone and retro-fit the entire London bus fleet to make them less polluting.â€