Hackney Council has clarified its position on tackling air pollution after Mayor Philip Glanville appeared to water down council policy at a public meeting.
At the council’s annual general meeting last week (23 May), Mayor Glanville intervened to correct the minutes of the previous meeting which said he had pledged to “decrease” pollution near schools.
When the newly elected speaker Clare Potter asked the council to agree that the minutes for the 21 February meeting were a “true and accurate record of the proceedings”, councillors began to agree until the Mayor said: “No, they’re not.”
Amid mock gasps from the public gallery, Glanville said: “Sorry, can I propose an amendment, Madam Speaker, to paragraph 5.12.
“It should be amended from ‘The Mayor assured those present that the council would work to decrease pollution in Hackney’s schools’.
“That should read, ‘The Mayor assured those present that there would be no increase in pollution at [Hackney’s schools]’.”
This was agreed by the council.
When asked whether this meant council policy was to keep pollution at current levels, rather than decrease it, a Hackney Council spokesperson said the Mayor’s intervention “was simply a correction of the record”.
Cllr Feryal Demirci, who was made joint Deputy Mayor in a post-election reshuffle, added: “I can confirm that the council is committed to decreasing air pollution.”
The Mayor’s correction referred to a remark he made at the February meeting after a deputation by parents from the group Cleaner Air for William Patten.
The parents were opposing the closure of Walford Road which they said would force cars and pollution into Church Street, home of their children’s school, William Patten Primary.
The meeting descended into chaos after the then speaker, Soraya Adejare, called for a vote when no motion had been proposed.
As people argued across the chamber, the Mayor intervened to reassure the parents, saying: “There will be no increase in pollution near schools.”
The unrest continued until Cllr Adejare banged her gavel, saying: “Gavel, gavel.”