It started with a Tweet.
‘London’s toxic air is a public health emergency. Here’s what I’m doing about it’ tweeted Sadiq Khan, London’s Mayor.
Naturally I followed the link through to his proposals, to see a long list including auditing air, increasing funding, buying new buses and introducing an Ultra Low Emissions Zone in two years’ time.
But if our air is toxic now, why wait and throw money at the problem, when there’s something we can do about it now, that wouldn’t cost anything?
‘Any chance you could stop coaches from illegally parking on Prince Albert Road with engines running? Foggy with fumes next to playground’ I replied.
Send our traffic wardens round to enforce the no-parking regulations, 8.30am – 6pm on a weekday. Sounds simple to me.
But there was no reply from our Mayor; just responses from worried locals who see the problem clearly: coach drivers, largely from abroad, are parking on Prince Albert Road instead of using official parking, such as the zoo carpark, presumably because Prince Albert Road is free and convenient. It just so happens that it is also illegal, and that the drivers leave their engines running all day so that they can keep themselves comfortable and even cook from hobs connected to their battery. It has also been suggested that they empty their onboard loos into the gutter. Nice. And remember, this is alongside our park, Primrose Hill, and just a couple of feet away from the coaches is our wonderful children’s playground and our popular outdoor gym.
And it is clear that while the Camden side of the road (i.e. alongside the park and next to the playground and outdoor gym) is lined with coaches, the Westminster side is kept clear. One day I counted 14 vehicles lined up on the Camden side, engines running. If you or I parked our cars there, we would quickly get a ticket. So what on earth is going on?
So on Friday, I took matters into my own hands. Unplanned, unscripted, I was passing by and decided on the spur of the moment that enough was enough. So I cleared the road of coaches all by myself, armed only with my righteous indignation. You can see what happened from the footage, which is unedited. To be honest, I was only filming to protect myself, so the visuals are extremely ropey, but I was right to have done so as one of the drivers lunged at me and I really thought I was about to get punched for my troubles. I think he was as surprised as I was that I stood firm and kept my composure (although you will hear that my voice gets a bit high-pitched!).
Anyway, my action cost nothing and was quick and simple and cut off a source of toxic fumes, albeit temporarily; meanwhile, we can wait until 2019 for the Ultra Low Emissions Zone and spend a lot of tax-payers money sorting what seems to be a problem that can be tackled in a more immediate and much cheaper way: send round the traffic wardens! Camden are aware of the problem but despite what I am heard to say in the video footage, have not sent traffic wardens round yet to the best of my knowledge.
Transition Primrose Hill have been monitoring the air quality and have recently found that the exact spot where the coaches idle their engines is a particular toxic air hotspot; see their report here:
© 2017 Joanna Reeves, all rights reserved.