Protesters take to Northampton town centre demanding council 'take action' on toxic air pollution

“People are losing their lives over this issue”
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Dozens of protesters took to the streets of Northampton to call for the council to “take action” on toxic air pollution in the town.

Environmental activists peacefully demonstrated outside The Guildhall on Thursday night (November 30), demanding that West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) improve air quality in the town.

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Protester Marly Lyman, of the 1,000 Voices campaign, claims that 102 people in Northampton die every year because of toxic air.

Marly Lyman of the 1,000 Voices campaignMarly Lyman of the 1,000 Voices campaign
Marly Lyman of the 1,000 Voices campaign

He said: “What we’re trying to do is get 1,000 people to sign up to tell WNC they need to take action on toxic air, which has been found from recent studies to have the worst air pollution in the whole of the UK.

"As a result, 102 people die every year – that’s two people every week in Northampton. It’s just not good enough. WNC needs to make this a priority. They need to take action to save lives.”

Mr Lyman continued: “102 people die every year just from the PM 2.5 particles, which are the most toxic to humans. It also causes all kinds of respiratory issues, such as COPD flare-ups, asthma in children, and premature birth. This is particularly frightening when you consider that one of the most polluted roads in the town is Cheyne Walk, right outside the maternity unit at Northampton General Hospital.”

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Mr Lyman goes on to claim that in 2006 the council was given 18 months to formulate an action plan.

Protesters are demanding WNC take action on toxic air in the townProtesters are demanding WNC take action on toxic air in the town
Protesters are demanding WNC take action on toxic air in the town

He said: “That’s legally binding; they have to do it. Seventeen years later, they've done absolutely nothing. No such plan exists. They don't even have a person in a post to tackle this issue.

"So, we're saying prioritise it. We're not telling you what to do. You're the ones who are qualified; you can look at what other towns and cities around the UK are doing. Look at what they're doing and figure out what's going to work best for the people of Northampton to save lives.

"It’s about time the council woke up to the reality that people are losing their lives over this issue. If two people were dying over anything else every week in this county, they’d be stepping up. How long do we have to wait?”

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All of Marley’s points were put to the council; here’s what its response was.

The group claims 102 people die every year from toxic air in the townThe group claims 102 people die every year from toxic air in the town
The group claims 102 people die every year from toxic air in the town

A WNC spokesman said: “We recognise there are genuine concerns about air quality in West Northants, particularly the Northampton area. Our services are committed to carrying out robust monitoring across the area with monitors based across the town to gather air quality data.

“The joint health and wellbeing strategy for West Northants sets out how partners will work together to improve health outcomes for our residents. Identifying areas, such as Northampton, where we can focus our efforts on improving air quality is a key part of the work being planned to meet our ambitions for good housing in places which are clean and green.

“We will continue to seek national funding to further support education and take the necessary steps to address these concerns.”

The 1,000 Voices group invite local residents to sign up to get involved with the campaign by adding their name to the list of concerned local residents at www.umbrellafair.org.uk/1000voices.