9 November 2014
In April 2014 we organised a demo in Winchester, in our latest attempt to get the City Council to take air pollution seriously. Some 60 people including many local children were involved in a colourful and noisy demonstration outside and inside the Council Offices. We occupied the latter until the Chief Executive was forced to come out and meet us.
We had followed up our complaint to the European Commission with a letter of ‘further particulars’. This was to draw attention not only to the continuing problem of air pollution in Winchester, but to the actions of the City and County Councils which seem designed to worsen it. Even though the European Commission has now indicated that it is pursuing the UK Government for its failure, and even though the Government has told Winchester Council that it will pass any (possibly very large) infraction fines down to them, the Council still behaves as if it is of no concern.
Winchester Green Party joined with its co-complainants, Winchester Friends of the Earth, in an event to mark the new letter to the Commission. Starting from the air quality monitoring station in St George’s Street, demonstrators walked along and across the street and into the High Street, down to the Guildhall, where Air Pollution campaigner, Hazel Agombar, presented the letter to Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor, for delivery to the Commission. A copy of the letter was then taken to the City Offices in Colebrook Street, where the Reception Desk informed us that the letter would be passed on to the Chief Executive, but we pointed out that we wanted to present it in person.
When it was apparent that no senior officer was going to come out and meet us, we crowded into the Reception area and occupied it. After about half an hour the Chief Executive finally came out and talked to Keith Taylor and Hazel Agombar. Much of the demonstration was filmed by the BBC’s Inside Out programme and it is hoped that footage will appear in that programme in the autumn.
More pictures can be seen at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/n0x8cy64d3z1var/5h7zgng8nY.
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