A NEW junction to the ring road is being planned to tackle air quality in Coventry – while controversial plans to close Coundon Road have been scrapped.
Coventry City Council on June 14 submitted its latest proposals to government in a bid to avoid the imposition of a ‘disastrous’ ‘Clean Air Zone’ congestion charge for motorists.
As we have reported, the government has issued a legal ‘directive’ that the council must introduce the charge for older vehicles using roads.
It would cut emissions significantly ‘in the shortest possible time’, the government claims.
Now the council has sent revised plans which include the new proposal for a direct link to the ring road on Upper Hill Street.
Its aim would be to cut congestion on Holyhead Road by providing an alternative route.
The revised plan includes no longer having to close Coundon Road by the rail bridge – which had prompted a protest petition with nearly 4,000 signatures.
Coun O’Boyle said: “Holyhead Road is the most polluting part of the city, that’s what is causing the issue.
“The alternative would be, instead of closing off the railway line from Coundon Road, vehicles still use that road and instead of turning right at Barras Lane, they come down Upper Hill Street.
“That used to be one of the main thoroughfares into the city before the ring road was opened – and we would reopen a junction onto the ring road.
“That would then free up a lot of the traffic that currently goes down Holyhead Road – and that would improve things and keep traffic flowing.”
Coun O’Boyle said the roadworks to open up the new route to the ring road would not take long.
He also responded to concerns extra traffic – and therefore toxic air – would be pushed onto Upper Hill Street and St Osburg’s primary school.
“Look, the school is near Holyhead Road and this measure will help to disperse traffic from that area,” he added.
Coun O’Boyle reaffirmed his opposition to the congestion charge which he again branded as a ‘regressive tax’ – which would unfairly affect poorer motorists.
Ex-Coventry MP Dave Nellist, of the Socialist Party, has started a petition against the congestion charge – while also calling for free public transport to tackle air quality issues.
The petition has gained more than 5,200 signatures.
Coun O’Boyle, when asked about the potential for free public transport, responded: “If the government wants to give us a billion pounds to do that I am sure we would implement it. But where is that money going to come from?
“I actually very much support the sentiment of giving people a cheap alternative – if not free transport – subsidised like in London.”
Last year, Coventry was named as one of 22 towns and cities within the UK where Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels are forecast to exceed legal limits.
In issuing the directive, DEFRA had rejected Coventry council’s previous wide-ranging and controversial £80million Air Quality Action Plan to cut emissions.
DEFRA is now threatening to force on Coventry the most severe ‘class D’ zone.
A class D ‘Birmingham-style’ charge system would mean older and more polluting cars, buses, coaches, taxis and vans would have to pay potentially £8 a day.
Nitrogen Dioxide levels at the ring road, Holyhead Road, Walsgrave Road, Binley Road and London Road are all set to exceed the EU’s safe limit value of 40 micrograms per cubic metre by 2021 – by quite some distance.