Face masks at dawn

More swine flu cases have been reported, including a second case in our borough.

Earlier this month, a man in Exmouth Market was diagnosed. Now a woman from Islington has been affected. There’s no evidence that either of them caught the disease in the UK. The first swine flu cases emerged just at the start of the European election campaign. There was speculation that we would be canvassing in face masks, solely by phone or that the elections might have to be postponed (as with the 2001 General election, over foot & mouth). In fact, the worst sneezes on the campaign trail so far have come from hay fever.

But we did have the facemasks out on Friday.

With GLA member Mike Tuffrey, local parents, councillors and school governors, I was protesting about poor air quality at Old Street. Recent Government figures revealed that Old Street Roundabout has some of the most polluted air in the whole of the UK , and breaks EU air quality regulations. And that follows EU figures showing 4,400 Londoners die early every year from pollution.

And what has Mayor Boris Johnson done in response? He’s scrapped phase three of the Low Emissions Zone, which would have forced vans, taxis and minibuses to reduce their pollution. There’s a strong environmental and health case for the Zone. There were genuine anxieties about the impact on small businesses, which is why Liberal Democrat assembly members came up with proposals to help smaller firms meet the costs. The Mayor ignored this and instead scrapped the scheme.


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