Sheffield councillors pull the breaks on £4.6 million decision to widen ring road

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Sheffield councillors have called in a decision to spend £4.6 million widening the inner ring road, after concerns were raised about its impact on air quality. 

The plans were to widen the road from Shalesmoor to the Wicker from two lanes to three to as a short-term solution to ease congestion.

But it will now go to the scrutiny committee for further consideration after concerns were raised about the impact on air quality and health.

Green Party councillor Martin Phipps, representative for City ward, said: “I have called for this decision to be scrutinised further on how these plans will impact on air quality in the area and people’s health, local residents and also those in their cars. We need to put health firmly at the centre of all our decisions.”

Coun Ian Auckland, Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet for transport and representative of Graves Park ward, also supported the challenge.

Coun Phipps added that Sheffield City Council should instead put more money into improving more environmentally-friendly modes of transport such as cycling.

He said: “This is claimed to be necessary to accommodate new jobs in the city centre, but if the council was serious about its commitment to improve air quality and its alleged commitments to improving public transport and cycling infrastructure, then this is what it would be looking at.”

Green Party Coun Douglas Johnson, representative for City ward, added: “I would have preferred to see a simpler scheme to give more priority to buses crossing the ring road at Bridgehouses where, at present, they can be waiting a long time at traffic lights for cars to pass.”

Sheffield City Council are also planning to introduce a pollution charge on the ring road of up to £50 a day for buses, lorries, taxis and vans.

They are hoping it will help tackle air pollution after it was reported 500 people a year died as a result of poor air quality and it costs around £160 million on health. 

Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development at the council, has previously called the effects of poor air quality, such as global warming, “the biggest threat our species has ever faced.”

A date for the scrutiny meeting, which will be public, is due to be set soon.