Winter, C. (1995) Fresh Air Now – Please? Magpie 36, pp.2-3
Fresh Air Now – Please?
FRESH AIR NOW – Please? by Chris Winter
I probably don’t need to tell you that Manchester is the most polluted city in the UK. Levels of nitrogen oxides and ozone regularly exceed European levels aimed to protect public health. This is worrying enough but the poison in the air is expected to get worse. Ninety percent of the pollution in our city is produced by the motor car. And the most conservative estimates suggest that the number of cars is to double in the next 15 years! Already the people of Manchester are suffering and in many cases dying from these pollutants. Asthma has increased by 60% in twenty years and the government estimates that ten thousand people die each year from ailments aggravated by diesel exhaust fumes.
So what is Manchester City Council doing to relieve such a human cost? Well one thing that they are doing is building more roads. Another is that they are planning to build a huge incinerator in East Manchester. They are also likely to build a second runway at Manchester Airport.
For years, people have been fighting for the Council to listen to the mounting evidence about health problems, demanded that open spaces are preserved, demonstrated that more roads simply generate more cars, that incinerators pump deadly dioxins into the air. But to no avail! Unfortunately for us, the council arc still locked into the car culture mentality of the Thatcher years, where cars equalled prosperity. This is an economical assumption which refuses to take into account health, access to local open spaces, fresh air, peace and quiet and a good quality of life available to all. Even though a minority of Manchester’s people own cars, roads and car parks have, it seems, taken priority over everything else.
FRESH AIR NOW intends to put these policies into reverse. We are a loose coalition of resident, environmental and health groups who have come together behind a radical – yet practical list of recommendations which we believe the Council must adopt and act on, if we are to change Manchester into a safe, pleasant place in which to live and work.
We want priority given to clean buses, and cycles; cars to be discouraged and banned from the city centre and the council to withdraw its support for a second runway and the incinerator. All open spaces should be protected (not sold off) and nature conservation placed higher on the agenda. We will compel the Council to respond by putting pressure on Councillors when they are most vulnerable – at election time. We want the rest of Manchester to know how incompetent and stubborn their council really is.
FAN will act as a platform for all these concerns, as a demonstration against the Council’s inactivities, and a celebration of communities. FAN is a non-party political group. We invite you all to join in the democratic process. Fresh Air Fortnight will take place before the local elections in May, when we will be holding seminars, press stunts and demonstrations. If you want to see a green and pleasant Manchester, please support us by contacting us at:
FRESH AIR NOW! One World Centre, 6 Mount Street, Manchester.