GREEN Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley has called for more to be done about Worcester’s growing congestion problem and said the issue was causing ‘premature deaths’.
During his visit to the Faithful City on Thursday (October 13), Mr Bartley who is co-leader of the party with Caroline Lucas, planted bulbs at the community gardens on Westbury Street and witnessed the traffic issues at St Peter’s bypass.
Discussing such issues as city centre access, cycling, air pollution and homelessness, he told The Observer: “It’s really important to be supporting the councillors and the great work they do. They are playing a crucial role in holding the balance of power.
“Congestion is definitely the issue here, we need to improve planning, plant more greenery and implement a cycling infrastructure to make our streets safer. It will also make schools and services, such as GPs and hospitals, more accessible.
“It isn’t just about getting stuck in traffic jams, it is the air pollution that congestion brings.
“The exhaust emissions can cause strokes and exacerbate pre-existing conditions such as asthma. There are thousands of people dying prematurely across the country. It is a natural scandal and the full extent is just being realised.
“We need to make sure safety nets are in place to support the most vulnerable people in the city.
“The Green Party is the natural place to go. We have the ideas, solutions and political will to combat congestion.”
Mr Bartley was joined by Green councillors Louis Stephen and Matthew Jenkins, as well as Jane Moorhouse, Green Party member and chair of the Arboretum resident’s association.
She said: “With the current state of city planning, the poor provision of walking and cycling and underinvestment in public transport many people currently have to use their car.
“We need to invest in a proper transport system that unblocks the congestion we see every day on the roads.”
The Green Party co-leader then spoke to staff at St Paul’s Hostel and the foodbank in Lowesmoor, which opened specially for his visit.
He said: “We got more votes in the last election than in any other election and with the EU Referendum we are seeing more and more young people getting into politics.
“We are optimistic for the future and there is a clear sense of movement. I definitely think the Green Party can win more wards in Worcester, absolutely,” he added.