The Tories have made plans to remove bike lanes and encourage more vehicle traffic in Southampton, in direct opposition to their pledge to reduce traffic in the streets.

In the recent Southampton city council election, the conservatives (Tories) seized power by gaining seven seats. The previous council created an £18.5 million transport plan which emphasized more public transport, cycling lanes and reducing vehicular traffic on some roads, such as Bedford Place. However, the new conservative run council is reviewing this plan. “The current transport plan as it stands – which is Labour’s transport plan – is not something that we will be fully endorsing” said Councilor Dan Fitzhenry to the BBC.

He is also in favour of reopening vehicular traffic to Bedford Place, the proposal of which more than half of the public do not agree with, according to a recent poll by the Daily Echo. Ron Meldrum of the Green party believes that this will only contribute to further air pollution in the city.

Green party candidate, Katherine Barbour said to the Daily Echo that she believes that the voters are “very concerned about the climate and planet…things need to be done differently”

“The reality is that it is likely to create more traffic jams, more air pollution and more deaths from the car fumes.”

Ron Meldrum in a public letter

Southampton’s air pollution problem

According to researchers at Friends of the Earth, air pollution such as nitrogen dioxide have exceeded safety benchmarks of 40 micrograms per cubic metre, in ten places around the city. Air pollution is known to increase the risk of having respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, and some cancers according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Furthermore, carbon emissions from vehicles contribute to global climate change, as emitted greenhouse gases trap more heat on the planet. Emissions from vehicles have been the leading cause of air pollution in the city. Ron Meldrum of the Green party believes that these new revisions of the transport plan by the conservatives will only lead to more pollution. He continues to emphasize that the conservatives need to ‘follow the science’ and reduce emissions by cutting down on the number of vehicles on the roads.

“Science is telling us we must reduce car driving not increase it. Perhaps someone else can explain their confused ideas?”

Ron Meldrum in a public letter

Mark Harracksingh

Mark is a final year undergraduate student at Concordia University in a specialization in environmental science. He was born and raised in Trinidad. He moved to Montreal to pursue a higher education and career in the environmental field. He has a strong interest in global politics and social justice.

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