I’ve been asked by The Journal newspaper to set out my position on the proposed ‘Bridge Toll’ which is currently out for consultation in response to the government’s demand for air quality improvements in and around Newcastle. Here’s my statement on the subject:
“This is a hugely important issue but I am not convinced a tax on drivers will achieve the outcome we all want to see which is the very best level of air quality not just in our city but in our wider communities. Depending on the outcome of the ongoing consultation and the election on 2 May I would be looking to work with the city council to revise this proposal.
“Air quality and the effects of climate change don’t start and stop at the borders of the North of Tyne so declaring a climate emergency is a nice soundbite but it carries no substance. As mayor I’d be looking to support the businesses and universities in the North of Tyne that are working at the forefront of global solutions to climate change such as AVID Technology in Cramlington which is doing fantastic work on battery technology. Climate change has to be addressed globally and we have the expertise in the North of Tyne to make a very significant contribution to that effort so rather than taxing the people involved, I want to free them up to accelerate their work.
“I’d also want to use my position as an independent mayor free of party political influence to work with local authority leaders to make a comprehensive case to government for the funding and powers to deliver a modern, fit for purpose public transport system that will connect our communities, provide better access to people travelling in and around the North of Tyne and deliver the air quality improvements we all want to see.”