In an audience with the mayor (July 2019), cllr Paula O’Rourke brought up some research she had read about in the Guardian to do with polluting cars. She said it was more robust than other analysis because it used MOT data (administrative data is a wonderful resource) and so could track which cars were the most polluting and where the owners lived.

She asked the mayor whether he would assess the research and pass it on to those who were assessing the clean air strategy.

For over 10 minutes he refused to contemplate it. When pushed for the last time, he said the research has nothing to do with him or his office but it is down to ‘brainy guys with big computers’ and not being done by officers.

This was very much a comment that followed Tory policy pronouncements about following the science. It’s ignorant to believe that science is anything but a matter of choices put through methodologies that need to be justified. Nothing just happens. If I choose to use a different set of measures than the latest set, this isn’t a matter of doing the ‘science’ or being brainy, it’s about a choice that will end up being erroneous.

It happens to the best of us. You may spend five years working on your PhD and then have to quickly try to evaluate a book on your topic that’s come out just as you’re about to submit.

More specifically, the CAZ research uses the index of multiple deprivation to assess who will be affected by the changes.

The question is, which Index of Multiple Deprivation data is the technical team using? A new set of measures was released in October 2019, which was just days ahead of the 5th of November 2019 cabinet meeting where the CAZ was decided on. I asked at Cabinet which year’s data was used and did not get a reply. As we can see from the comparison below, there has been a big difference in deprivation in relation to the quality of the local environment between 2015 and 2019.”

The research quoted in the Guardian was by the University of the West of England. [link] “Poor produce fewer traffic emissions than rich but are most affected – study finds”

The main benefit of this study and its conclusions is that it contradicts the mayor’s purported reasoning that he doesn’t want to charge people more because it will disproportionately because it will affect poor people the most. And that it quite specifically he isn’t trying to avoid the ire of drivers who will now be charged but only cares for the poor who might be charged.

His worry is not for the excess deaths due to air pollution in places such as Lawrence Hill, which is one of the most deprived wards in the city, but because they might be charged more, even though research shows they are less likely to own cars or drive.

So let’s see how much coverage has been given to the technical parts of the assessment, who determines ‘the science’, who are the ‘brainy people with computers’

  1. The mayor refused to even say he would suggest it to the technical team.
  1. The mayor refused to even say he would suggest it to the technical team.
  2. What has the news coverage been of this research?

Hypothesis to be checked: For the Bristol Post, the coverage has been focused on charging drivers, how much will they be charged, will they be charged, who will be charged, etc.

21 January 21

BBC Bristol


Bristol Cable

Bristol Voices

Bristol Agenda on BCFM

[to be continued]

human hands knitting sheeps (Rkl painting)

Published by Joanna

A collection of fleeting thoughts that tend to focus around Bristol, food, movies, music and photography.

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