Monday 31 December 2018

Just Breathe

A montage of photos illustrating air pollution issues affecting Bow and beyond
More than just hot air?

This last month or so has seen a flurry of local policy announcements, meetings and activities concerning traffic and pollution and these topics will likely come to the fore in our neighbourhood in 2019/2020. This article looks at borough and London-wide initiatives that will undoubtedly affect MEOTRA. Articles later this week will look at measuring pollution in our neighbourhood and news of the new Superhighway coming our way.

A recent study in The Lancet Public Health showed that children within Tower Hamlets exposed to air pollution have significantly smaller lung volume (a loss of approximately 5%) and this puts them at greater risk of developing lifelong breathing disorders. 

Studies such as the above make worrying reading, but things are being done to hopefully address this issue both London and borough-wide and even on the ward level. I thought it might be worth looking at some of these.

Low Emission Bus Zones
12 of these are being introduced across London "in the worst air quality hotspots outside central London" with one being the "Stratford Zone" which is the section of the A11 between Ilford and Mile End. They will all be completed by the end of 2019. Unfortunately, it does seem to stop at Mile End Station and so the D7/D6/277/339 won't be part of it.

As a footnote to this, Route 25 no longer runs between City Thameslink and Oxford Circus. On a positive, the number 25 has stopped parking up in Grove Road and also in the Grove Road turn-around. MEOTRA campaigned heavily to stop these congestion/pollution causing practices.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)
From 8th April 2019 the ULEZ will replace the T-charge. It will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year, within the same area as the current Congestion Zone. It will be £12.50 for most vehicles and will be in addition to the weekday Congestion Charge.

From 25 October 2021, the ULEZ area will be expanded to include the Inner London area bounded by the North and South Circular Roads.

Nurseries in Tower Hamlets to have air pollution tests
Alice Model Nursery School in Stepney Green and Columbia Market Nursery School in Bethnal Green will be having audits to check levels of pollution inside and outside. This follows on from the counterintuitive results from a University College London/University of Cambridge study that found pollution was significantly higher inside classrooms.

New Penalties for Idling Engines
Tower Hamlets Council is slapping £20 fines on drivers who leave their engine running when they are parked, and the penalty will go up to £40 if it isn’t paid in 28 days. They are also looking for volunteers to act as local Air Quality Champions. 

Introducing "School Streets"
In mid-December Salmon Street, off Salmon Lane, which leads up to Sir William Burrough Primary school became Tower Hamlets first school street. "School Streets" are schemes where roads outside some schools are closed to traffic at set times in the morning and afternoon. Vehicles are not allowed to enter the street unless they have an exemption. These schemes discourage car journeys to school, reduce traffic, improve air quality and encourage walking and cycling to school. Implementation varies borough-to-borough, but they are frequently introduced as 6-9 month trials. The schemes only operate during term time. Coborn Street would seem a likely candidate as it contains Malmesbury Primary School.

Saturday 15 December 2018

Meotra Carols - Tomorrow at 5PM in Tredegar Square

Cartoon of snowmen singing Carols

Tomorrow is Meotra's Annual Carol Service at 5pm in Tredegar Square. This is always a great event. Come and join us and get your Christmas off to a, hopefully, tuneful start.

We have printed and laminated around 150 carol sheets, mince pies are being cooked, mulled wine is on its way and Father Christmas is busy wrapping presents for the little ones. 

The weather is looking sort of alright (you try typing with crossed fingers), but we will be there whatever the weather!

Please enter via the North Gate where we will be handing out carol sheets, bring a torch if you can and an umbrella would probably be a good idea too!

After the carols, we will be collecting [cash] for Bow Foodbank and then we are migrating to The Lord Tredegar at the invite of the new managers, who have also offered to make a donation to Bow Foodbank.