A raft of pollution-fighting initiatives have been given the green light by Westminster City Council.
The pilot schemes aim to reduce vehicle emissions and are part of the council’s drive to create a greener, healthier city and improve air quality.
They include increased on-street electric vehicle charging points, “smarter management” of taxi ranks by using optical sensors and Air Quality Champions on the streets tackling engine idling.
Cllr David Harvey, Cabinet Member for Environment, Sports and Community, said: “Air quality is the number one concern for our residents and the council is committed to making Westminster a lead in tackling air pollution.
“By working with our stakeholders we have formulated initiatives that will make a real difference air quality and bring significant improvements to the lives of those who live, work and visit Westminster.
“Through these pioneering pollution-fighting measures and the hard work of our new Air Quality Champions we will make Marylebone a ‘green-zero’ for London-wide change.”
The new pilot schemes are the next stage in the Marylebone Low Emission Neighbourhood (LEN).
They will help bolster the work of the council’s Anti-Idling Action Days, such as one that took place on Wednesday, May 31, during which specially trained volunteers were out on the streets of Marylebone speaking to people about the effects engine idling has on people’s health and the environment.
The announcement also follows a successful “Play Street” pilot event in which more than 200 pupils from St Mary’s Bryanston Square Primary School, in Marylebone, played in the street after school.
A normally busy road, outside the school, was closed to traffic for three hours on Tuesday, May 23, so pupils could play hopscotch, blow bubbles, create arts and crafts, plant seeds and make smoothies.
Head teacher Emily Norman said: “It was brilliant to have so many families stay after school and feel they can play and enjoy themselves without having to rush away.
“We are really concerned about air pollution in this area. The fact that crossing the road is such a health risk for children and no-one wants to bring children up in an unhealthy environment.
“Anything we can do to improve air quality has got to be a good thing.”
Leanne Wright, mother of 10-year-old pupil Ananda Walters, said: “I think the event was wonderful. Obviously the more that can be done the better. We have to change our way of thinking and living and that’s the hard part.
“Some of the most serious offenders are parents sitting outside schools. Changes need to be made for sure. We can’t keep going like this.”
The Marylebone LEN, funded by the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund, includes a whole range of innovations designed to help deliver cleaner air and a greener environment.
They are supported by local stakeholders and partners within the Marylebone LEN including the three business improvement districts (BIDs).
Kay Buxton, Executive Director of Marble Arch London said: “As one of the first of its kind in London, the Marylebone Low Emission Neighbourhood provides us with tangible results from our air quality initiatives.
“It is our aim that these measurable achievements will encourage other areas of the country to commit to lasting environmental change.”
Penny Alexander, Chief Executive Baker Street Quarter Partnership, said: “We are delighted that the City Council has implemented these innovative measures to improve Marylebone’s air quality, complementing the efforts of businesses and the wider community in pursuing our shared aim of cleaner air for Marylebone.
“Improving air quality is paramount to our 200 business members and the Marylebone Low Emissions Neighbourhood provides a vital focus for all of us working together to care for the area’s air.”
Steven Medway, Managing Director Trading Environment, New West End Company said: “New West End Company is excited by these initiatives by the Low Emission Neighbourhood bid in Marylebone, reinforcing our dedication to improving air quality in the West End.
“We have a duty of care to residents, visitors and employees and having taken a collaborative approach, the LEN will have a hugely positive contribution towards health and wellbeing, complement existing action already being undertaken by businesses in the area and demonstrate the on-going commitment of the City Council to encouraging retail tourism."