Over 100 people attend XR Wandsworth’s March For Life

Over 100 local residents participated in XR Wandsworth’s March For Life as the group declared the borough an “air pollution crime scene”.

The group marched from Balham to Tooting Broadway last Saturday, 24th July, to protest against what they labelled a “dismal failure” by the council to address air pollution. 

Wandsworth Stand Up To Racism, the Save York Gardens campaign, Putney Pollution Busters and Little Ninja UK were amongst other organisations involved on the day. 

The protest acted as part of the action group’s ‘Wake Up Wandsworth’ campaign which was launched back in April.

This was set up in response to what they call the council’s failure to act upon the climate and ecological emergency declared in 2019.

The first of XR Wandsworth’s four demands of Wandsworth Council is to reduce air pollution to within legal levels by May 2022.

The group paused outside the home of Cllr Kim Caddy, who leads responsibility for climate and sustainability in Wandsworth.

They chanted to ask for “clean air” now to the councillor as the delivered their message last weekend.

Speakers gathered at Tooting Broadway to plead with the council to act on the climate emergency after struggling to get in contact with them.

“Residents have always, always wanted to work with the council on decreasing the levels of air pollution, but they’ve been met with ignored emails,” said Andrea Gilbert of Putney Pollution Busters.

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XR Wandsworth have also called on the council to convene a Citizens Assembly in order to help them work out strategies to reduce air pollution.

“At the end of the day it’s the council that has to do more about this, and they have to listen to residents by having a Citizens’ Assembly where residents can put in their views and their objections to proposals,” Gilbert added.

The groups’ other demands are around trees and green spaces, food waste collections and divestment from fossil fuels. 

However, Wandsworth Council have since hit back and emphasised multiple new measures they have brought in in recent months.

A council spokesman said: “The council is implementing a vast range of measures to help us achieve our ambitious target of becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2030 and which will help improve air quality. 

“This includes action to green our vehicle fleet and our pension fund, plant thousands of new trees, explore food waste recycling, support the switch from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles and introduce energy efficiency measures in our housing blocks.”

They went onto detail other provisions they’ve put into place in order to help combat emissions. 

This included: funding for e-cargo bikes for services and local businesses, moving to purchasing zero-carbon renewable electricity and installing dozens of bike hangars.

The spokesperson added: “Our efforts to date have been positively highlighted in an independent report produced by University College London which evaluated councils on their ability to lower carbon emissions.  

“This report placed Wandsworth third out of all councils evaluated, ahead of Oxford, Nottingham, Sutton, Islington, Brent and Lambeth. The report’s authors recognised that we are delivering real action against our climate change commitments and judged us to be out-performing other local authorities.”

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