There are several things you can do to influence your council to take action or pass a motion. All the activities in this pack, from organising a Playing Out day to monitoring air pollution can help.

Anything you do locally can help raise awareness, get people interested and create opportunities for you to help push air pollution up the council’s agenda.

Here are a few more examples of things you could do which could help tip the scales and get your council on board.
 

ORGANISE A LOCAL PETITION

Collecting signatures from people in your community is a great way to show that you have public opinion behind you. If your council knows that there are lots of local people who want action to tackle air pollution, they’re more likely to take notice.

Friends of the Earth is working on its own software that will let you set a petition up, which you may be able to use. Contact actionnetwork@foe.co.uk for more info.

A few top tips for setting up a petition include:

  • Be clear about what you’re asking for, and make the petition short and easy to read.
  • Only ask your target to do one thing, so it’s clear to people what they’re asking for, and what you want the target to do. We know this is what has worked best for many campaigns.
  • Think about the ways you can promote your petition to get more signatures, including on your stall, emailing your contacts and using social media.
  • Remind people to share your petition with friends and family once they’ve signed it (if they live in the local authority!).
  • You might also want to think about what you do with it once you’ve collected a good number of signatures. For example, you could organise a hand-in to your council where you go along and give the names to somebody there – or even at a full meeting of the council itself - or use it to gain some media coverage.

 

ORGANISE A PUBLIC MEETING

Getting local people and your council together at a public meeting is an excellent way to show that there is support and bring people together to put pressure on the council. There are lots of elements to organising a public meeting, including finding the right venue, choosing the right time and inviting – and briefing - really good speakers (including someone from the council).

There is lots of guidance on organising a public meeting here

 

RUN A STALL

A stall is the perfect opportunity to talk to local people and let them know about air pollution and what role the council could play in solving it. Take along a way for people to sign up to your local petition so that people can lend their support. You can also use the stall to tell people about upcoming events such as public meetings and any other ways they can help. 
 

WORK WITH YOUR LOCAL MEDIA

Gaining coverage in the local media is a really powerful way to get your local authority interested. See the section on working with media for more details, ideas and a template press release you can send.

 

MEET WITH COUNCILLORS

Once you’ve worked out who the most important people on the council are to influence, it could be really useful to set up a meeting with them to tell them your concerns and what they can do about it. Councillors and council officers should all have their contact details available on the council website, or you could ring the switchboard to speak to them.

Before your meeting, it’s a good idea to think through what main outcomes you want, and the key points you’ll need to get across. During the meeting, make sure somebody is taking notes of what is being said and agreed as these will be really useful later. If they’re supportive, the councillor might be up for a photo with you which you can share – and if you’re on Twitter, tweet at @wwwfoecouk with the hashtag #cleanair. After the meeting, make sure you thank the person you’ve met and tweet about it. If there were any action points agreed, it would be a good idea to write to and remind everyone involved what was agreed.  
 

BUILD A BROAD ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE 

Bringing in a wide-range of voices and people who are interested in air pollution for a range of reasons to your campaign is really important. For example, parents of school age children, Parent and Teacher Associations (PTA), faith groups, local asthma action groups, health professionals, could all offer different perspectives and demonstrate that it’s not just environmental campaigners who are concerned.

You may already know about some local groups that are out there who might be sympathetic, and a Google search might bring up more. You may have contact with schools or there may be a patients’ group at a local GP surgery that you might be able to approach.

Before you contact them, have a think about:

  • What aspect of air pollution might interest them, and how to get that point across (i.e. a parents’ group might be concerned for the health of their children, a faith group might be concerned about their community)
  • What you might be able to offer them, e.g. a solution to the problem, a way to reach more people if you are a group with lots of contacts, and so forth
  • An event that you could invite them to, e.g. a public meeting
  • What you want the outcome of contacting them to be – for example, coming to your public event, agreeing to meet up with you to talk further

 

While there’s much to do to get us on the path to a diesel-free, clean air future, there is already lots of work going on up and down the country and some really promising progress in some local authorities.

Many are starting to realise the scale of the problem and are beginning to put measures in place to tackle air pollution.
 

City of London Corporation – banning diesel vehicle purchases and more

In 2016 the City of London Corporation banned the purchase of diesel vehicles for its business activities, which has a fleet of over 300 vehicles. In July the Corporation also announced plans for a London-wide crackdown on drivers who leave their engines idling. 

Other measures the Corporation is taking to reduce air pollution include:

  • Creating a ‘City Air App’, which gives low pollution travel routes to over 15,000 Londoners 
  • Introducing a City-wide 20mph zone
  • Bringing in tighter restrictions on harmful emissions from big polluters like bulldozers and generators
     

Sheffield City Council – a Low Emission Zone in South Yorkshire

Sheffield City Council have been looking into putting a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in place to keep the most polluting vehicles out of the city. They’ve been looking into the costs, benefits, air quality impacts and timescales for bringing about an LEZ in Sheffield.

The council has been doing some research into diesel vehicle emissions in the city, which has put a spotlight on pollution from diesel cars, taxis, buses and goods vehicles. The City Council concluded that in order to meet legal NO₂ limits, there needs to be a shift away from diesel to cleaner fuels. In the short term, diesel vehicles, particularly buses, taxis and goods vehicles, should be retrofitted to reduce their impact on air quality.

Sheffield are now looking into the costs and benefits introducing an LEZ, and following that will review the city’s Air Quality Action Plan.

Source: urbantransportgroup.org
 

Greater Manchester – making school buses green

Greater Manchester’s fleet of 81 Yellow School Buses run to schools across the county, and over half of these are hybrid- electric vehicles.

Transport for Greater Manchester was awarded funds to upgrade 30 of the region’s earliest Yellow School Buses to cut down on harmful emissions.

In total, Greater Manchester will soon have 280 hybrid-electric buses on its roads and Transport for Greater Manchester is also purchasing three fully electric buses.
 

Brent Council – passing a motion on air pollution

Brent Council passed a motion in 2016 that supports the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan’s action plan to ‘battle London’s toxic air’. It welcomes the Mayor’s proposals including:

  • Put in place a £10 charge on the most polluting vehicles entering central London from 2017, on top of the congestion charge
  • Introducing the Central London Ultra-Low Emission Zone one year earlier, in 2019
  • Developing a detailed proposal for a national diesel scrappage scheme for Government to implement

The motion also commits Brent to urge Transport for London to make ‘clean bus corridors’ - where only low emission buses are allowed to travel – on two of its most polluted roads.


Do you have any good examples of local authorities taking action? Let us know and we may feature them! cleanair@foe.co.uk.