Andy Burnham must keep his manifesto promise to clean up air pollution in Greater Manchester without “the loss of a single job or business”.
His plans to implement a Clean Air Zone – following the instructions of the Conservative Government – were clear in his manifesto but have come under withering public attack as the implementation date nears.
“The Liberal Democrats have a simple message for Mayor Burnham,” said Oldham’s Opposition Leader and Transport Spokesperson for Greater Manchester, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE. “Keep your promises, or admit you were elected on a platform you couldn’t stick to. You need to pause and re-think the whole scheme, and you need to do it now!”
The Clean Air Zone is being introduced because there are an estimated 1,200 deaths a year in Greater Manchester because of air pollution, and that must be dealt with. Mayor Burnham claimed that his Clean Air Zone would do that, and that it would be managed to ensure no business would be damaged.
“Those lost lives need to be addressed but not at the expense of lost jobs,” stated Councillor Sykes. “This is a Conservative Government instruction being implemented without thought and in a rush by a Labour Mayor and the 10 local authority Leaders.”
“Even if people wanted to comply, they cannot as the supply chain is not robust enough to deliver the conversions or new complainant vehicles in time and that assumes people can afford them!” He added.
Councillor Sykes continued: “We know that people’s jobs are under threat, with this coming on the back of the Conservative’s record-breaking taxes, with businesses still restricted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the botched trading arrangements with the EU that the Government is now abdicating responsibility for.”
“Air quality monitoring across Greater Manchester is patently inadequate. Government funding to help businesses upgrade is insufficient. The Mayor promised to speed up the introduction of electric charging points, and has completely failed,” he stated.
“Think again, the scheme needs a radical re-think. Failing to tackle air pollution is failing the thousands of people who are dying because of it every year. We need a clean air strategy that works, not a Mayor driving blind, and risking thousands of jobs in Oldham and across the region.”