Kingston’s first ever citizens’ assembly on improving air quality recently took place over the two weekends of 9 - 10 November and 30 November and 1 December.
Assembly members, made up of thirty-eight randomly selected Kingston residents, were asked to address the question: How do we collectively improve air quality in the borough?
The council commissioned Involve to run the four day event, which saw a number of air quality experts, as well as local community groups, present their evidence on why improving our air is important.
Assembly members were given a chance to review the evidence, question expert witnesses and deliberate with each other. On the final day they were asked to shape their thoughts into a set of recommendations for the council and the community to take forward together to help tackle the issue.
The final five recommendations were to remove pollutants from school boundaries, prioritise changes to planning rules and enforcement to indoor and outdoor air quality, plan to urgently invest in greener and accessible transport and infrastructure, increase residents’ awareness of air pollution, encourage positive behaviour change and accelerate the transition to sustainable vehicles.
Councillor Hilary Gander, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainable Transport, said:
“I’d like to thank everyone who was involved in making our citizens’ assembly a great success, particularly to our residents who volunteered to be assembly members and gave up two of their weekends to discuss ways to tackle this important issue. Improving our air is one of the biggest issues affecting the borough and has huge impacts on our health and the environment. I’m excited to work together with residents, businesses and partners to take these recommendations forward.”
Tim Hughes, Director at Involve, said:
“It’s been great working with Kingston Council and the community on this important issue and being able to put residents at the heart of decision-making around how to improve air quality across the borough. The assembly has come up with some brilliant recommendations and I look forward to seeing how this develops into a clear action plan for the borough.”
Recommendations from the event will be presented by members of the assembly and Involve to Full Council on Tuesday 17 December, 7.30pm at the Guildhall. You can watch it live on the Council website.
Following this, the recommendations will be discussed at the Environment and Sustainable Transport Committee on 11 February 2020 to determine how they will be taken forward and to inform the review of the Air Quality Action Plan over the coming months.
You can view the preliminary report online, or for more information on the climate emergency in Kingston, visit www.kingston.gov.uk/climatechange. A full report is to be published in January 2020 and made available here.