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Southall residents meet with Green Party deputy leader over concerns of living with poor air quality and being ignored by Ealing Council

Residents in Southall living next to The Green Quarter who have been campaigning about the quality of air in their area and how it impacts their lives, have met with Zack Polanski, deputy leader of the Green Party and member of the London Assembly.

The Green Quarter in Southall is an 88-acre brownfield site on the south bank of the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal and has been built on the former Southall Gasworks.

The site is being redeveloped by Berkeley Homes which recently announced a consultation for phase 4-9 of the development. It said up to 7,500 homes could be on The Green Quarter when the development is completed.

Remediation works to improve the soil condition have included an open-air soil hospital but residents living in and close to the site have highlighted over recent years how they suffer from poor air which impacts their lives.

Zack Polanski with CASH campaigners by the canal looking at the Green Quarter in Southall. Photo Andrée Frieze
Zack Polanski with CASH campaigners by the canal looking at the Green Quarter in Southall. Photo Andrée Frieze

Members of Clean Air for Southall and Hayes (CASH), which has been campaigning since 2016 is seeking to get both the local authority, Ealing Council as well government authorities to take action, told Mr Polanski of their concerns which include lack of engagement from their local ward councillor and now leader of Ealing Council, Peter Mason,

Speaking of his meeting on 4 August 2023 with Southall residents, Mr Polanski told EALING.NEWS: “I was both inspired by meeting the residents in Southall and at their determination but also absolutely furious with the contempt that Peter Mason and his council have treated them with even in public letters.”

Mr Polanski was also joined by Andrée Frieze, Green councillor and leader of the opposition at neighbouring Richmond Council.

Mr Polanski spoke of what he experienced and saw during his tour of the area. He said: “You can physically taste the petrol in the air and feel the dust in your eyes.”

He added: “I heard story after story of people who feel let down by the council – who still haven’t answered the most basic of questions put to them by residents. Toxic air is awful for people’s health and it appears that Labour are prioritising profits over peoples lives.”

Angela Fonso, co-ordinator of CASH told EALING.NEWS: “During the tour, with Zack and Andree, there was a very distinct odour which smelt like a combination of petroleum and solvent on the site, experienced by all members of the group, resulting in a headache and throat irritation.”

She added: “We explained that this is a regular occurrence for residents and the odours were extreme when Berkeley Group excavated contaminated soil and treated it on site in an open air soil hospital. We encountered one resident who told us that he is suffering ill health and doesn’t drink from the water supply as he fears contamination. He is so concerned for his family’s health, he would like to move away from the Green Quarter.”

Ms Fonso also spoke of how Southall residents have been let down by their ward councillors including Ealing Council leader Councillor Peter Mason. She said: “Despite regularly reporting odour incidences to the environmental protection officer, we are never informed or updated.  We keep on chasing up and never hear back. It seems they just are ignoring us and have been for years.”

In May 2021 following his challenge to previous Ealing Council leader Julian Bell, Mr Mason became leader of Ealing Council and told residents: “We are on your side” and “We will fight with you”.

Councillor Mason also highlighted the actions he and Ealing Council would be doing for the residents but residents feel it hasn’t been enough and what has been done isn’t properly managed.

Councillor Peter Mason
Councillor Peter Mason

She added: “We are disappointed that our ward councillor and leader of Ealing Council Peter Mason and Ealing Council have consistently failed to protect a vulnerable community. He also wouldn’t meet us for a ward surgery even before COVID-19. It’s been impossible to meet with him face to face for years.”

Neil Reynolds, chair of Ealing Green Party told EALING.NEWS: “For too long Labour has taken this part of of London for granted. It shows how seriously the Green Party is taking the concerns of residents in Ealing borough that our deputy leader has made his second visit to the area in the past year.”

Mr Reynolds added: “I am glad Zack has listened to local people about the problems of air quality in Southall in person. I hope he can get the issue the attention it deserves in City Hall.”

Ms Fonso said the Green Party deputy leader along with Councillor Frieze have also accepted an invitation to attend a meeting co-hosted by Centric Lab and CASH on a collaborative project to design a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) specifically for Southall.

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