Brent air quality scrutiny committee inquiry launches appeal for information

One of us (Cllr Thomas Stephens) has recently been appointed Chair of a task group in Brent Council to investigate issues with air quality in the borough, and make recommendations on potential policy changes.

We’ve just started the evidence-gathering part of our work and have issued an appeal for information, so we’d welcome any thoughts and ideas, from across Brent, on things which need investigating – please do get in touch.

At the last meeting of Brent Council’s Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee in July, Councillors agreed to establish a Task Group to investigate issues with air quality across the borough.

Presently the task group has ten members, consisting of seven Councillors and three co-optees from the wider community, and it has the following Terms of Reference:

1. Set out the latest evidence on current issues with air quality in the borough, both across Brent as a whole and between different local communities and neighbourhoods

2. Review and scrutinise the steps which Brent Council, its statutory partners and stakeholders operating across the borough which have an impact on air quality are taking to address these issues

3. Engage widely with a diverse and representative range of local stakeholders across Brent on issues with air quality and the steps they would like to see taken on this issue

4. Review and scrutinise relevant local, national and international examples of best practice in addressing air quality; and explore their applicability to Brent

5. Should it so wish, make recommendations as to what Brent Council, its statutory partners and stakeholders across the borough who are impacting on local air quality should do to address these issues

It goes without saying that this is a hugely emotive and important issue, and it’s clear from the early scoping work we’ve done that it’s (quite rightly) a matter of immense concern to Brent residents – especially those living in busy neighbourhoods heavily affected by polluting traffic, air pollution from buildings or other issues, both in Sudbury and throughout Brent.

I know that everyone, from the leadership of the Council downwards, is keen to explore what more we could do locally to push ahead with improvements to air quality and ensure that every corner of our borough is compliant with air quality standards, and every resident can live happy and healthy lives.

After holding a couple of informal meetings and agreeing key lines of enquiry, we’ve now kicked-off the evidence-gathering part of our inquiry – and we’re busy sending appeals for information out to various organisations and arranging evidence sessions with witnesses. In addition to reaching out locally, we’re also bringing in external witnesses and looking to learn from best practice in other councils and other countries.

In addition, whilst our focus will rightly be on what Brent Council can do to improve air quality locally, we won’t be shying away from making recommendations which are relevant to national government, Transport for London or the Greater London Authority should the opportunity arise – and indeed we’ll be looking to engage with TfL during the course of our work.

We’re all very keen to cast the net widely, in order to get a full impression of the full range of issues which need addressing. With this in mind, I’d very much welcome thoughts from people on anything we should investigate, or suggestions about any best practice which you think we should replicate in Brent. As always, the best way to get in touch is by dropping me an email at cllr.thomas.stephens@brent.gov.uk.

Cllr Thomas Stephens

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