Chiswick Councillors Criticised For Driving To Clean Air Day

Pro-cycling campaigners accused them of hypocrisy

chiswick councillors
back (l-e) Cllr Patrick Barr, Cllr Sam Hearn, Cllr Michael Dennis, (front) l-r Cllr Gabriella Giles, Cllr Jo Biddolph


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Chiswick councillors have defended their decision to drive to an event where they handed leaflets promoting Clean Air Day. Councilllors Jo Biddolph and Patrick Barr were accused of hypocrisy by pro-cycling campaigners.

The incident led to a row on Twitter where critics pointed out that they were part of a group of nine local Conservative councillors who oppose the cycle highway 9 in its current form.

"Cllrs Barr and Biddolph drove round Chiswick today telling people about #CleanAirDay2019 #CLEANAIRDAY. Not sure they've quite understood how it works. In general, driving > pollution @Barr2018 @JoannaBiddolph Walking & cycling > #CleanAirForAll"

Cllr Joanna Biddolph, who is leader of the Chiswick councillors group, defended her decision to drive. She said she had been very busy with a number of engagements in different parts of Chiswick that day, and decided to take her car to save time.

Councillor Barr had posted a tweet subsequently deleted that the driver of a 237 bus had driven into the back of his car. This led to a pro-cycling campaigner retorting that he had 'shot himself in the foot.'

Cllr Biddolph said, "@ChiswickHighRd states we "drove round" which implies we were dashing here and there by car for Clean Air Day. We were not. Everyone makes decisions about how they get from A to B for complex reasons. One of my reasons was that I needed to be at my desk for part of the day.

"I do not have a bike so cycling was not an option. If it hadn't been for a packed diary I would have done it all on foot or by bus. I needed the time.

"I rarely use my car. I am acutely aware of the impact of cars on our environment and of poor air quality in Chiswick which, in various forms, is a focus of our work this year. The Clean Air Day leaflet was about turning off engines if stationary for a minute or more not about never driving.

"How were our journeys different from people in Chiswick who, for example, buy groceries and food from eg Ocado - delivered to their front doors by vehicles - when at least some of them could cycle, walk or bus to the shops and support our independents while being cautious about air pollution? Or who order their supper from eg Deliveroo?

"It is not a simple question or decision, is it? "

traffic jam sutton court road
Sutton Court Road at 11.30 am on the day councillors were advising motorists against engine idling

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July 1, 2019

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