A COUNCILLOR is urging parents who are collecting their children by cars to switch off their engines outside the school gates.

Cllr Sam Jeans said she wants residents to work together to make the air cleaner across the borough of Basingstoke and Deane.

The newly-elected councillor, appointed to serve the ward of Kings Furlong and Brookvale for the Conservatives at last month's local elections, said she has been contacted by residents concerned about the impact dwelling engines have on the environment.

"I have been taking the time this week to remind people of the need to leave their engines off when stationary and also enable them to avoid getting a potential fine," she told The Gazette.

On Friday afternoon, Cllr Jeans spoke to motorists who were sitting in the car with their engines on.

"As we all know, air pollution is a top environmental risk to human health and we should all take steps to reduce this," she added.

In January 2019, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council launched the Clean Air Campaign and encouraged residents to make a pledge to reduce air pollution by using their cars less and switching off their engines when stationary.

Parking wardens across the borough can fine motorists £20 for leaving their engines on while stationary. 

Exposure to pollutants which come from fumes can cause a range of health problems including diabetes, lung disease and cancer.

The United Nations has previously said that access to clean air should be viewed as a matter of human rights. It is estimated that air pollution currently causes seven million premature deaths a year, including 600,000 children.

In Britain, around 40,000 deaths annually are linked to air pollution, according to a 2016 study by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Basingstoke Transition Network, a local action group that aims to make the town a greener place to live, has previously raised concerns about Basingstoke's air quality.

In 2017-18, the group installed 14 air quality monitors across Basingstoke.

In five places, their study found that air pollution was above the annual legal maximum allowed levels.

The monitors were analysed by scientists from Kings College London.

Speaking at the time, former councillor and member of BTN Martin Biermann, said: “We have just released a detailed report of the findings of our air monitoring.

"The results are worrying. Unless we do something to clean up our air the health risk is only going to get worse as the town grows. We have made a series of recommendations to the Council – but the main things we need to do are to reduce the number of car, bus and lorry journeys in our town and move to less polluting forms of transport as soon as possible – walking, bikes and electric vehicles are all alternatives to the car.”