AIR pollution is causing proportionally more deaths in Swindon than any other major town or city in the south west.

That’s according to a study by independent think tank the Centre for Cities.

Its figures say 97 people over 25 in the borough died from air pollution in 2017.

That’s lower than Bristol’s 288 or Bournemouth’s 273 and lower than Plymouth at 108.

But the proportion of deaths in Swindon related air toxicity is highest overall at 5.4 per cent.

That’s more than Bristol at 5.1 per cent, Bournemouth at five per cent and Plymouth at 4.2 per cent.

Swindon Borough Council has already been forced to declare an air quality action management zone in Kingshill Road, the area of worst pollution in the town.

Labour group leader Jim Grant said the figures showed the need for action on pollution.

He said: “Not all of these people affected live on Kingshill.

"People are dying in Swindon because of air pollution.

“This council thinks it’s got a grip on it but it clearly has not.”

Cathy Martyn is the Conservative cabinet member for public protection on the council.

She said: “I have seen the figures form the Centre for Cities.

“The refer to deaths from high levels of particulates. But in Swindon, we’ve never seen high levels of those particulates. Officers are looking at whether those figures are accurate.”

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “We fully acknowledge the health impacts of poor air quality and we are taking positive steps towards ensuring that the air in Swindon is as clean as it possibly can be.

“Last year, the council published its Air Quality Action Plan for the whole town, which outlines the strategy for tackling air pollution over the next five years. Air quality in Swindon is generally very good. Like other towns and cities, however, some areas are not as good, and these are generally associated with busy traffic routes and areas where houses lie close to the kerb.


“The Air Quality Management Area that has been declared for a small stretch of Kingshill Road is, it’s important to note, the only one in Swindon and our Air Quality Management Plan sets out the ways in which we are trying to improve air quality, particularly on this road. 


“Public protection is a major priority for this Council and we are keen to promote electric vehicles, cycling, walking and public transport as suitable alternatives to cars. Not only would this improve air quality, it will improve people's general health and wellbeing, so there are positive benefits for everyone.”

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “More than half of people in the UK live in cities and large towns.

"And while they offer people good employment and lifestyle opportunities Cities Outlook 2020 shows that they have a damaging effect on their health, with air pollution killing thousands of people living in cities every year.

“Politicians often talk tough on addressing air pollution but we need to see more action.

"People in the south west should be at the centre of the fight against its toxic air and councils should take the steps needed, including charging people to drive in city centres and banning wood-burning stoves.

“To help the government needs to provide the south west’s councils with extra money and introduce stricter guidelines.

"The deadly levels of polluted air in the south west are entirely legal.

"This needs to change. As a matter of urgency the Government should adopt World Health Organisation’s stricter guidelines around emissions. Failure to act now will lead to more deaths.”

Earlier this month the British Heart Foundation warned that 40 people a day across the country could die of heart and lung problems related to air pollution over the next 10 years.

It said there could be 160,000 deaths from heart disease and strokes related to the pollution over the next 10 years in the UK.

The borough council is currently consulting the public on its plans to improve the air in the Kingshill air quality management area.

Ideas include signs discouraging drivers from using the road and restricting heavy lorries from using the hill.

Plans are available at, or at Wat Tyler House and in council-run libraries.

The consultation runs until February 3.