7 December 2015
Shoppers in Maidstone Town Centre were left baffled as a procession carried a coffin along the high street to Kent County Council's front door and laid it on the steps.
The demonstration, organised by Maidstone Green Party, delivered a letter to Kent County Council demanding they act on a recent report that suggested at least 130 deaths a year can be attributed to air pollution caused by traffic in the town centre. Dressed in black attire and face masks, the Maidstone Greens travelled from the Town Hall, around Bishops Way and back up Gabriels Hill before walking up Week Street to the Kent County Council Hall.
The coffin, daubed with 'Coughin' along each side drew many shocked on lookers and raised attention to the sad truth about Maidstone's mounting problems with pollution. Leaflets were handed out during the demonstration raising awareness of what Maidstone needs to undo untold damage to its residents. We badly need better provisions for pedestrians and cyclists, more robust bus routes and schedules giving people more options than to drive themselves, adding to inner-town congestion and, in turn, more pollution.
Maidstone Borough Council intend to waste £6 million on increasing the capacity of the town's inner ring road, encouraging more traffic, not less. All to improve the motorists journey by a meagre 74 seconds.
Speaking for the Maidstone Green Party, Stuart Jeffrey said “Every year around 130 deaths are attributable to air pollution from traffic in the borough, the same number that were killed in the Paris attacks last month yet local government is failing to tackle this tragedy.
Instead, they are planning on spending £6 million to reduce driving times through Maidstone by 74 seconds. While this will give a small short term reduction in air pollution, it will allow more traffic through the town and in the longer term it will increase pollution. We think this money should be spent on making it easier to walk, cycle and use public transport.”
1. Stuart Jeffery sets out why the march was important: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHtO9yk6QL8
2. Public Health England showing the number of deaths from particulate matter in Maidstone https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/332854/PHE_CRCE_010.pdf
3. DEFRA report showing additional deaths from NO2 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/460401/air-quality-econanalysis-nitrogen-interim-guidance.pdf
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