The Camden New Journal and Ham & High published the below letter from me about the need to impose proper fines for engine idling, not Labour’s half-measure.

Air quality means a great deal to me, my constituents in Hampstead, and residents across Camden. That’s why I was disappointed to see that Camden Council is settling for issuing drivers fines of just £20 for deliberately idling their engines.

I spoke in favour of introducing fines in the Council chamber, but at £20, the fine is derisory. This is, remember, solely for drivers that willfully refuse to switch off their engines after being asked to do so by wardens – not accidentally or unknowingly.

Camden’s Cabinet member claimed that £20 was the maximum able to be issued, but this isn’t true. Westminster issues £80 fines under a belt-and-braces approach: applying both the £20 Fixed Penalty Notices that Camden is introducing and giving itself the further power to issue £80 Penalty Charge Notices in pollution hotspots.

The latter, introduced in June, gives Westminster the ability to issue meaningful fines to problem drivers. The £80 fines also streamline enforcement by being issued via the same process that parking tickets are issued and by being appealed to the less costly London Tribunals instead of clogging up the magistrates’ courts.

Sadly, the £20 fine is a typical half-measure on air quality from Camden. I’ve also been pushing for Camden to install hundreds of charging points for electric cars, like other boroughs, but they’re settling for just 33 instead.

Camden should go much further in assisting green drivers and penalising those that don’t play by the rules. Targeted use of a larger fine could make a big difference to tackling pollution in Camden.

For more about my campaign to reduce air pollution, click here.