Where did all the figures go? Air pollution stats along one of Northampton's most fume-filled streets missing in 2016
Opposition members have called the level of transparency at the Guildhall into question after air quality figures on one of Northampton's busiest centre streets were not available throughout 2016.
A Freedom of information Request by the Liberal Democrat group on Northampton Borough Council has revealed the authority failed to monitor air pollution in The Drapery for the whole of 2016, for reasons as-yet-unknown.
The road is often jammed with idling buses and shopkeepers there have told the Chron that fumes have become a real problem.
At the Guildhall on Monday night the opposition group called on the Conservative administration to bring a report to council twice a year detailing the trend in air quality readings as a result of the missing set of data.
Proposing the motion, Councillor Brian Markham (Lib Dem, Westone) said: "It had been carried out for three years on The Drapery, but then it stopped, why?
"Whether that was by design, or whether the outcomes of the air quality monitoring gave results that people did not wish us to see we do not know."
A study by the Green Party in 2016, discovered the area directly outside Northgate bus station breached the EU set upper watermark for levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide. by around 25 per cent.
Councillor Dennis Meredith (Lib Dem, Talavera ) said the council needed to take the air pollution in The Drapery seriously, or wave goodbye to some of its big name retailers.
He said: "The reality is shops in the Drapery cannot have their doors open.
"Debenhams is reviewing the sites it has, we can only hope they don't wish to close the one they have there."
Councillor Sally Beardsworth claimed Debenhams had even been having trouble giving out samples at its perfume counter because of the smell from the buses.
The motion, calling for a twice-yearly report on air monitoring, was amended however, largely because the Conservative-run authority said it is already drawing up an emissions strategy to tackle the issue.
The amended motion removed a line concerning the lack of air pollution figures along The Drapery in 2016.
Council leader, Councillor Jonathan Nunn (Con, Nene Valley) said: "We know that where the traffic is stationary, it is going to cause pollution.
"Therefore we need to focus on action rather than reporting."
He said that the authority is testing cameras that will catch any cars using the Drapery illegally and is working on a strategy to make the town more bike accessible.
"The measures we are proposing are serious measures that we firmly believe will increase the traffic flow," he said. "We are committed to improving the quality of the air."
Labour councillors backed the amended motion put forward by the Conservative group.
Councillor Enamul Haque (Lab, Castle) said: "Air pollution is a serious issue in the town and the area surrounding North Gate Bus station is particularly bad.
"We need to do something as it damages human health.
"Cllr Stone and myself have also been concerned about the air quality around schools and have bought air quality testing kits for our schools. I have also spoken in council about cars idling in traffic jams. We need a campaign to ask drivers to turn their engines off. We need to take action but the Tories ignored our concern.