THERE is nothing more important to wellbeing than fresh air. However, parts of Tameside have had to tolerate unacceptable levels of pollution for too long.
I am therefore extremely happy to be able to report back on something I have been working on for some time. It is very good news for the Longdendale valley.
Next year the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone will begin. These zones are a requirement from national Government and do not affect domestic cars, but they do affect heavy goods vehicles and other vehicles that do not hit the clean air standard.
However, the Government have excluded national roads run by Highways England (HE) from this.
In most places this means the motorway network, but in our area Market Street and Mottram Moor in Hollingworth and Hyde Road in Mottram are also all trunk roads run by HE.
This meant we faced a terrible position where additional HGVs might have chosen to come through Mottram and Hollingworth to avoid the Clean Air Zone charges. Instead of reducing our traffic problem, it would have got worse.
I’m thrilled that now, after some brilliant work by Tameside Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and a summit meeting with myself, my neighbouring MP for High Peak and the Transport Minister Rachel Maclean, MP, we have received excellent news: the trunk roads in Mottram and Hollingworth will be included in the Clean Air Zone. I am told this is to be the only deviation of its kind in the country.
Instead of a very bad outcome, we now have a very good one. This will be the one of the biggest improvements in local air quality in Hollingworth and Mottram we have ever seen.
Combined with the by-pass being built around Mottram, we are looking at a huge improvement in quality of life for people in these villages.
As someone who has lived on both Mottram Moor in Hollingworth and Broadbottom Road, Mottram, I understand first-hand the difference this will make.
I would like thank Councillor Brenda Warrington, Tameside Council leader and Councillor Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council, who have led on this at Greater Manchester level for their unstinting support. I would also like to thank the Transport Minister for listening to and engaging with us. Greater Manchester has also negotiated additional financial support from the Government for the grants and incentives needed to help people update their vehicles – more excellent work.
Finally, we can look forward to a time when Longdendale’s air is as clean as local children deserve.