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City Matters 118

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CITYMATTERS.LONDON 04 - 17 March 2020 | Page 3 NEWS subscribe to our newsletter at HEALTH DANGER: high levels of nitrogen dioxide have been linked to premature death. Clean air policies will save the NHS estimated £5bn THE Mayor of London’s clean air policies will save the NHS £5billion over the next three decades, new research suggests. According to HealthLumen research for City Hall, by 2050 almost 300,000 fewer people will experience health problems associated with toxic air in the capital – including heart disease, lung disease and dementia. This is a 25% decrease on the number of Londoners expected to be impacted without the Mayor’s policies and will prevent a million hospital admissions, the study found. In some Coronavirus shuts down Guildhall School of Music & Drama for two weeks From Front Page virus lead to oversee the response to the global threat of the virus, for instance on schools or businesses; a war room set up in the Cabinet Office, bringing together communications experts and scientists from across government and the NHS to roll out the public information campaign; the option, should the virus spread, to encourage more home working parts of London, air pollution breaches legal limits set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). High levels of nitrogen dioxide – a by-product of petrol and diesel engines – have been linked to premature death, and stunted lung development in children. Since taking office in 2016, Sadiq Khan has introduced the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which penalises high-emission vehicles driving in central London. The Mayor has also introduced 12 low and discourage unnecessary travel as part of a ‘social distancing’ strategy that could delay the peak of the outbreak until later in the year, potentially helping combat the virus in warmer weather conditions; and looking at emergency registration of health professionals who have retired, the introduction of emergency indemnity coverage for health care workers to provide care or diagnostic services, emission bus zones, where only the least polluting buses can drive. And Mr Khan has stopped licensing new diesel taxis – the biggest source of nitrogen dioxide in central London, because they are exempt from ULEZ restrictions. There are now around 2,500 electric-capable black cabs in the city. A Kings College study said the Mayor’s policies will bring London’s air within legal pollution limits by 2025 – while without them it would have taken 193 years. But Mr Khan warned today that unless the government takes action, more than half a million residents will have health problems caused by air pollution by 2050. This will cost London health and social care £10.4billion, he claimed. Speaking at Columbia Market nursery school in Hoxton today, he said: “Toxic air causes long-lasting harm and could devastate lives for generations.” The school will be within the expanded ULEZ, and is currently one of six trialling a City Hall backed filtration system to ensure pupils are breathing clean air. The Mayor said: “I’ve moved fast in London to implement the most ambitious plans to tackle air pollution of any major city in the world – showing what we can achieve if we are brave enough to take bold action. “The government must take urgent steps to help clean up filthy air across the country, including with a new Environment Bill to give cities the powers they need and making World Health Organisation air quality guidelines legally binding targets to be met by 2030.” But Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said Mr Khan’s commitment to a controversial east London road tunnel remains “a huge contradiction” in his policy. Silvertown tunnel will cross the Thames between Greenwich and Newham – but protestors are concerned it will bring more traffic to polluted areas near the river. Ms Pidgeon said: “The Mayor should refrain from boasting about his policies on tackling air pollution when he is stubbornly going ahead with the Silvertown road tunnel, which will inevitably create more traffic and more toxic air pollution in the years ahead. “Spending £1billion on a new motorway under the Thames instead of investing in public transport and walking and cycling initiatives is not the way to tackle air pollution.” A spokesperson at the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs said the government was “stepping up the pace” of work to tackle toxic air. She said: “Alongside our Clean Air Strategy, which has been praised by the World Health Organisation as ‘an example for the rest of the world to follow’, we are investing £3.5billion to tackle air pollution from transport. “Our landmark Environment Bill includes a commitment to a legally binding target on fine particulate matter that will improve the health of millions of people.” and relaxation of rules around staff to pupil ratios in education and childcare settings. The PM said: “It is highly likely coronavirus will spread more widely in the coming days and weeks, which is why we’re making every possible preparation. “We have agreed a plan, which I will set out in detail, so if the virus should spread, we are ready to take necessary steps to contain it and protect the most vulnerable. “But we can all continue to do our bit to fight this virus – by washing our hands with soap and water for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.” Essential updates to a historical crossing MAJOR maintenance works will soon begin on London’s busiest and most historic river crossing, London Bridge, writes Catherine McGuinness, City of London policy chair. The vital work is to replace some of the original elements of the current almost 50-year old structure and will be completed to ensure it can remain operational for many years to come. It’s widely known there has been a bridge at or near to the current London Bridge site since Roman times, making this area synonymous with Thames River crossings. The current bridge was completed in 1973 and our engineers say the crossing has performed very well throughout its lifetime, but it is now showing some minor signs of wear that need addressing. With an estimated 60,000 people – including local residents – passing over the bridge every rush hour, the programme is no small feat. We are therefore working closely with Transport for London (TfL) and our counterparts in Southwark Council in order to minimise disruption for those who use the bridge to cross the Thames. London Bridge is owned and maintained by the Bridge House Estates. The City of London Corporation is the sole trustee of the Bridge House Estates and manages maintenance of London Bridge, as well as four other Thames Crossings owned by Bridge House Estates – Blackfriars Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge and Tower Bridge – in the interests of the capital. So what is happening on London Bridge and how will it affect your journey? The City of London Corporation programme is to replace the protective waterproofing layer below the roading surfacing, along with 24 bearings. And, in order to minimise any future disruption, our contractors (FM Conway) have been asked to complete any necessary repairs to the concrete deck at the same time. The entire programme is expected to take no longer than seven months, from 16 March to October. The safety of all bridge users is of utmost importance to us, so the London Bridge programme will be carried out in two stages. The first stage is to repair the western side and will run from March to May, with the second stage focusing on the eastern side running until October. Importantly for commuters, London Bridge will be closed throughout the works to all traffic except buses, licensed taxis and people walking and cycling. During this time, walking routes over London Bridge are expected to be much busier than usual, with footways restricted to the east footpath during stage one, and to a combination of the west footpath and part of the east carriageway during stage two. The roads on the approaches to London Bridge, both north and south of the river, are also expected to be busier than usual. This will likely to be most noticeable during the peak times of between 7am-9am and 4pm-7pm on weekdays. We urge people travelling in the area to plan their journey in advance and to consider travelling at off-peak times or taking alternative routes. Full travel advice is available at While these works may cause some shortterm disruption, we believe that they will help to safeguard London Bridge for future generations.

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