Officials encouraged by Swaffham air quality proposal response

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Council chiefs say they have been encouraged by the initial public response to draft proposals aimed at improving air quality levels in Swaffham.

Around 150 people are estimated to have attended the launch of a public consultation on the ideas at the Assembly Rooms last Friday.

And officials say residents are broadly backing the measures that have been put forward so far.

A report, published to coincide with the consultation launch, has listed 22 separate proposals for how air quality levels could be improved.

Alison Webb, Breckland Council executive member for people and information, said: “I am delighted that so many people took the time to find out more and let us know their views on the measures we and our partners are proposing to investigate.

“It’s good to learn that most people feel we are on the right track.”

The proposals include preliminary investigations into the possibility of a bypass, linking the A1065 with the A47, and a ban on lorries coming into the town centre.

Others include encouraging car clubs to reduce vehicle ownership, increased use of public transport, providing more vehicle charging points, the creation of extra green spaces and potential changes to parking rules.

A separate consultation is under way on reinstating two hour time limits on stays at three town centre car parks.

The report also suggests that air quality issues should be taken into consideration in relation to planning applications and within the development of future local plans.

Mrs Webb said: “There are clearly concerns about traffic, and people agreed that measures to help improve traffic flow, such as changes to road layouts and traffic lights, need to be looked at in greater depth.

“Some residents we spoke to said they would use their bike rather than their car, if the road layout changed and more cycle stands were provided.”

“This is exactly the sort of local feedback we need and I would encourage anyone who wasn’t able to attend our launch event to take part in the consultation to let us know their views.

“Air quality is an issue for many towns and cities and there’s no quick solution. In Swaffham, it’s likely that improvements will be achieved through implementing a number of measures over a period of time. Some changes can be implemented more quickly, while others could take many years to achieve.”

Full details of the consultation can be found online at www.breckland.gov.uk/air-quality-consultation. Printed copies are also available from the town’s library, the Green Britain Centre and by phoning 01362 656870. The closing date for responses is February 23.