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Councils plan to solve air quality issue by buying affected homes

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire County Council appear to have come up with a cunning plan to solve the problem of ten houses exposed to illegal levels of NO2. Buy them.

The councils believe that if no-one lives in the affected area , there will be no pressing need for them to implement a fiercely controversial bus gate in the area. 

The proposed bus gate would be situated at Basford Bank, sited between Stock and Newcastle-under-Lyme and would prevent all traffic bar buses and electric vehicles from using a Newcastle-bound a section of the A53 during the morning and evening rush hours.

The bus gate, along with a proposed Clean Air Zones has drawn criticism from various quarters since it was first mooted, with various parties arguing  that it would impact on local businesses and send displaced traffic rat-running down sideroads in the area.

On Friday, the three councils involved issued  a joint statement regarding a possible alternative to the Basford Bank ‘bus gate’.

As plans for a bus gate on Etruria Road became more detailed, we were concerned by the scale of the predicted traffic diversions and the impact this would have on many other side roads in the area, affecting the lives of hundreds of residents.

We recently shared an emerging alternative proposal with the UK Government that would avoid a bus gate being installed, which would also achieve the city and borough councils’ legal obligation to reduce pollution.

There is still a lot of work to be done to get a final plan completed and approved by the UK Government.

Work on the bus gate has now been paused while all three councils focus their efforts on completing a full business case for this alternative proposal.’

A spokesman for Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council said that the authority had been making the case for a proportionate resolution to the problem since 2018: an argument strengthened by the change in people’s travel habits since the Covid lockdowns and the move towards older vehicles being replaced by newer, less-polluting models.

The alternative plan would involve the city council buying ten homes along the most polluted stretch of Basford Bank, removing those people suffering most from traffic emissions at the site. Transport secretary Mark Harper has agreed for work on the bus gate to be paused while this alternative resolution is investigated.

A final decision set to be made later this year.

Paul Day
Paul is the editor of Public Sector News.

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