Greater Manchester and the government must play fair on clean air

Amid rumours of plans for Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to pause the introduction of the GM-wide Clean Air Zone ahead of the planned implementation in May and following public pressure, Liberal Democrats call for Labour to sort out the shambles they have created, continue to call for more government funding so that fairness can be at the heart of any measures to tackle air quality, and call out hypocrisy by local Tory MPs.

Councillor Mark Roberts, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Climate Change and the Environment at Stockport Council said: “It is clear action on pollution is needed – air pollution contributes to at least 1,200 deaths each year across Greater Manchester. However the Conservative Government have refused to back up the Clean Air Zone they have prescribed with sufficient funding to ensure the hardships this scheme will create are properly mitigated, especially on small businesses and given the impact of Covid.

“This weekend a spokesperson for the Federation of Small Businesses demanded further discussions between the government and the GM Mayor about a satisfactory financial settlement. We support this position. Throughout this process we have highlighted our concerns about inadequate funding and the unfair impact on small businesses and sole traders.

“The whole situation is a shambles and Greater Manchester Labour Leaders, who have the responsibility for implementing the scheme locally, need to get back around the table with government ministers to sort this out.”

Councillor Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, added: “The hypocrisy shown by Tory MPs across Greater Manchester in writing to their own Secretary of State to protest about the Clean Air Scheme their own government is insisting we implement is simply breath-taking. They clearly have no influence within their own government but, much like with our housing targets, they have jumped on another bandwagon to try to court popularity. Residents will see this for the cynical stunt it is.”

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