No idling sign

Ealing residents unaware of idling fines, council opposition claims

Ealing Liberal Democrats raised concerns over the Labour led council’s introduction of idling fines in the borough.

Idling refers to keeping a car’s engine running while it remains stationary, which continues to emit pollutants into the atmosphere.

Ealing Labour introduced the maximum penalty for idling in October, in an attempt to deter unnecessary air pollution.

However, Lib Dem Cllr Gary Malcolm argued that residents have not been sufficiently educated, stating: “At the end of the day, the signs which have been put up are ignored, we need people on the ground at hotspots like city centres and schools.”

He added: “On the one hand, Labour’s trying to reduce air pollution with fines for idling, but on the other, they’re closing roads on the edge of Hounslow to make low emission zones, which forces some cars to take longer journeys.”

Cllr Malcolm said that Labour’s efforts to educate locals has thus far been limited to new road signs and notifications in the press.

Additionally, Cllr Malcom argued: “These idling fines will hit hard pressed residents in their pockets, a double whammy as Ealing Labour is likely to be raising council tax in the coming months, despite receiving extra funds from central government.”

Dr Dean Venables, an expert in air quality and atmospheric chemistry, explained the effects of idling: “Everyone is harmed by the sort of pollution produced by idling engines, but the elderly and those with existing health conditions are especially vulnerable. 

“Children are also vulnerable to air pollution because their lungs are still developing and they are smaller and closer to vehicle exhausts, so get higher doses of pollution.”

Whilst there is near-universal agreement on the need to stop idling, Dr Venables disagreed with the Ealing Lib Dems’ position.

He said: “An estimate from the USA a few years ago was that about 10% of transport fuel was wasted on idling.

“If the figure in London and the UK is comparable, households spending about £1,000 per annum on petrol or diesel could well be spending £80 or more each year on fuel for idling.

“So I am not at all persuaded by the cost-of-living argument.”

He added: “If we’re concerned about anti-social behaviour elsewhere, then casually polluting the air we breathe by idling surely also counts as anti-social behaviour.”

Toxic air pollution prematurely kills about 4000 Londoners each year, according to research by Imperial College London.

Ealing Labour did not respond when approached for comment.

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