Sadiq Khan says he is fighting pollution with ‘one hand tied’ behind his back

The London Mayor said he agreed with Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s comments, adding that the Government must 'redouble' its efforts.

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Sadiq Khan has said he is tackling London’s air pollution with “one hand tied” behind his back.

It comes after Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, whose nine-year-old daughter Ella suffered a fatal asthma attack in 2013, said earlier this week the Government’s air pollution targets are an insult to her memory.

The London Mayor said he agreed with Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s comments, adding that the Government must “redouble” its efforts.

He told the PA news agency in central London on Saturday: “I’m motivated to reduce air pollution in London, to have an ultra-emissions zone, to expand it, and to work towards smart roads to make more progress in improving the air in London.

“But I feel like I have one hand tied behind my back because the Government’s not helping, which is why I understand Rosamund’s anger.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan during his visit to the Siemens Mobility factory in Goole, which will manufacture 94 new tube trains for London Underground to replace the 1970s-built Piccadilly line fleet from 2025. Picture date: Monday March 21, 2022.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan during his visit to the Siemens Mobility factory in Goole, which will manufacture 94 new tube trains for London Underground to replace the 1970s-built Piccadilly line fleet from 2025. Picture date: Monday March 21, 2022.

He added: “I want to make change now, reduce the number of premature deaths, reduce the number of children with stuffed lungs, reduce the number of adults with a whole host of health issues from asthma, to cancer, to heart disease.

“The Government needs to be doing far, far more, it’s kicking the can down the road.”

It comes one year since Coroner Philip Barlow urged the Government to set legal air pollution limits based on 2021 World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and to launch a public awareness campaign in response to Ella’s death.

The Government is currently working towards meeting the WHO’s older 2005 guidelines by 2040.

Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah told a panel earlier this week: “It really is a bit of an insult to Ella’s memory when I think about it.

“What they are telling the British public is: ‘We will meet the 2005 target by 2040’.

File photo dated 25/10/21 of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who has said he is pro-police but that the current Met Police leadership does not have a plan to address "deep cultural issues".
File photo dated 25/10/21 of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who has said he is pro-police but that the current Met Police leadership does not have a plan to address "deep cultural issues".

“I try not to get emotional about it, but my concern is that it’s not going to change life for an asthmatic child who lives by a busy road and who is breathing toxic air.”

The family lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham, south-east London.

Ella was the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.