The Inside the Council column with Scott Patient (Labour, Luddenden Foot)

Checks: There is an air quality monitor in Hebden Bridge.
Checks: There is an air quality monitor in Hebden Bridge.

I thought I’d use this opportunity to talk about air quality – it being a particular health concern nationally and in the Calder Valley, especially the young, elderly and those with respiratory conditions.

The deputy leader of the Calderdale Conservative group recently took to a national platform to falsely criticise this council’s work.

Councillor Scott Patient (Labour, Luddenden Foot).

Councillor Scott Patient (Labour, Luddenden Foot).

Had he bothered to turn up to a cross party meeting on air quality only the night before he might have learned something, so it’s worth an update of where we are.

The council has eight Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) across the borough which are continually monitored, including one in Hebden Bridge and a potential ninth in Mytholmroyd plus monitoring in many other sites. The data we get when the flood works end later this year will help determine how we move forward.

Broadly speaking air quality across these AQMAs has shown a 5–10% improvement, modern engines are more efficient, young people are less inclined these days to buy a car and public awareness has increased. This in itself is good news but there is still much work to be done.

It’s fair to say most people living in the Upper Valley are aware of the consequences of the ever more frequent extreme weather events.

From floods, moorland fires and hottest days on record (sometimes all in the same week) we have seen it all!

Like all other West Yorkshire Councils, Calderdale is investing in reducing these emissions further – from educational campaigns, investment in EV charging, electrification of council vehicles, using innovative new tech across the borough and so much more. The Green Ivy screen at Burnley Road Academy is an example of a low tech but potentially effective way of protecting our children from harmful particulates, as will the launch of our trees scheme with 1,000 being planted on Valentine’s Day.

We can all do little bits to help too, from not idling our engines (especially around schools) and ditching the car for journeys under a mile or less, it all really does help.

We need serious investment in our public transport after 10 years of austerity – meaning over £100 million in cuts to our council – we need that help from this Government and our MP!

Despite years of promises (and frequent lobbying from your local councillors) for electrification and improvements to the Calder Valley line we are still stuck with an often inefficient and expensive service, one that stops less at key stations which in turn pushes more people back into their cars.

Thank you then to local heroes like the station partnerships we have here who work so hard to secure funding for improvements, such as the new lift in Hebden Bridge and the renovation of the beautiful station building in Mytholmroyd. Along with extra car parking at both these sites I hope the demand creates a better service.

Please do also take part in the “Corridor Improvement” consultation happening right now – many of the ideas proposed would have improvements for air quality such as less cars on the main highway so a more efficient flow.