Extinction Rebellion takes "coffin" to council to highlight Ipswich pollution
PUBLISHED: 16:30 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:28 06 February 2020
Members of Extinction Rebellion have staged a mock funeral at Ipswich Council's offices to highlight the danger of air pollution in the town - and the need to dramatically reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
Members of the XR Suffolk Sunrise group carried a small home-built "coffin" carrying 63 facemasks to represent the estimated number of people from Ipswich who died from pollution-related conditions over the last year.
They spread these around part of the foyer at the borough's Grafton House headquarters, while member Kirsty Logan read out a eulogy urging councillors to take decisive action to reduce pollution in the town.
Among the campaigners was East Suffolk Green Party councillor Rachel Smith-Lyte, who said there was a need for councils to do much more to ensure people did not drive as much - especially in polluting internal combustion vehicles.
She said: "We have to look at other ways of travelling, by public transport or cycling or walking. The level of pollution is continuing to rise and there are parts of the town where councillors know it is now quite dangerous.
"Using public transport isn't just good for the environment - you meet other people and talk to them. That is good for mental health. And you get a short walk at the beginning and end of the journey."
Ipswich Council is responsible for monitoring pollution in the town - but changes to road layouts, closing streets to cars and creating new cycle routes is the responsibility of Suffolk County Council.
The borough's portfolio-holder for public protection, Alasdair Ross, said: "Tackling air pollution requires a range of organisations to work together but the borough council is taking positive action by investing in a new fleet of electric vehicles, providing electric charging points in car parks and aiming to ensure that future development in the town does not impact on air quality.
"In addition, we subsidise a number of bus services in the town and provide the town centre shuttle bus. We would welcome the support of Suffolk County Council to reopen Bury Road Park and Ride and to put forward an Ipswich bid to the new electric buses fund.
"The public also has a part to play by not using cars on short trips if they can walk or take public transport and by not idling their engines in traffic or outside schools."