Annual General Meeting
Sushila Dhall (Chair)
Don O’Neal (Treasurer)
Deborah Glass-Woodin (Stalls)
Chris Cowley (Secretary)
Cinderella Lingwood (Website and Social Media)
Members: Keith Frayn, Peter Headicar, Andy Chivers, Alison Hill, Ruth Davis, Susan Tibbles, Penny Jacques, Simon Hunt, Mark Davies, Peter Thompson, Patrick Lingwood
Speakers: Dr Suzanne Bartington, Dr Felix Leach (with Ajit Singh)
Apologies were received from Owen McKnight
- Minutes of the last AGM, 23rd February 2021
The minutes of the 2021 AGM were shared on screen. The minutes were approved by the meeting (Proposed: Alison Hill; Seconded: Cinderella Lingwood)
The minutes reported on Yvonne Constance’s talk to us at last year’s AGM. Sushila commented that she was sorry that, following the local elections in May 2021, Cllr Constance is no longer involved in transport policy.
- Sushila read out the Chair’s report which had already been circulated to members.
- The Treasurer’s report had already been circulated to members. Don reported that our expenditure had exceeded our income by £168. This is largely due to the fact that we have printed more copies of Oxford on Foot which will generate future income once they are sold. Subscription have increased and our finances are steady.
- In response to a question about a donation of £700, Don confirmed that this was a grant from the Low Carbon Hub which had come to us via CoHSAT.
- From the Keith Holly legacy of £20,000, £2,500 has already been spent developing a woodland walk in Cutteslowe Park. It has not been possible to agree on a location for a bench on Warneford Meadow so the memorial bench may be installed in Cutteslowe Park instead. Sushila is working with the City Council to agree on a style and appropriate locations for the remaining benches (proposed costings £15,000-£16,000).
- Election of Officers
Sushila Dhall was re-elected as Chair (Proposed: Don; Seconded: Keith)
Don O’Neal was re-elected as Treasurer (Proposed: Sushila; Seconded: Keith)
Deborah was re-elected for Stalls (Proposed: Sushila; Seconded: Ruth)
Owen McKnight submitted a written statement and was elected as Social Media Co-Ordinator (Proposed: Sushila; Seconded: Cinderella)
Sue Tibbles submitted a written statement and was elected as Secretary (Proposed: Keith; Seconded: Don)
Thanks were expressed to Chris and Cinderella
Peter Headicar led a vote of thanks to Sushila for all her hard work during the past year.
The formal meeting closed at about 19:30 and was followed by a talk by Dr Suzanne Bartington (Clinical Research Fellow in Environmental Health at the Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham and Honorary Consultant in Public Health at Public Health England) and Dr Felix Leach (Associate Professor of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford) from OxAria.
The talk focussed on a project to measure air quality in the city of Oxford for 3 years. The project was set up in 2019 with the aim of establishing baseline data before the introduction of the proposed ZEZ in the city centre. In the event, the ZEZ was postponed but the project was in place to measure the effects of the Covid Lockdowns.
Funding for the project has come from 3 different sources and is currently due to run until June 2022.
Data is obtained from ‘low-cost’ sensors, costing between £2,500 and £3,000 each, which monitor levels of PM and NO2. Three sensors were functioning before the start of the pandemic and there are now 16 deployed at permanent locations across the city (moving the sensors would invalidate the data). The data received needs to be ‘deweathered’ in order to take into account fluctuations in temperature, humidity and other weather conditions throughout the year. This process is complex and takes considerable time.
Additional audio sensors (which can distinguish man-made from natural noise) have been installed to measure noise at points throughout the city – with one ‘background’ sensor at Wytham Woods. Initial data from these sensors is expected by the end of March.
Within the city, air quality has been deteriorating year on year for at least the last decade, with levels of NO2 and PM both rising. In the first Lockdown, in spring 2020, there was a dramatic 70% reduction in traffic within Oxford city. There was little change in PM levels during this time, but deweathered and detrended data showed that NO2 levels in roadside locations fell by around 20%. If it was permanent, the health impact of this fall would equate to:
- Saving 2 or 3 deaths pa
- Preventing 48 lost life years pa
- Economic benefits of £2.5 million pa
No significant reductions in PM and NO2 were detected in subsequent lockdowns.
OxAria is liaising with the County Council to inform policy. They are also hoping to secure funding to continue this valuable project, with a particular focus on public health impacts of air quality.
Suzanne and Felix were thanked for their presentation and there followed questions and discussion.
Question: Why did levels of PM not fall in Lockdown 1?
Only 15% of PM levels result from road traffic. Other sources are wood burning stoves, power stations, agricultural fertilizer use and Saharan sand.
Comment: NO2 is known to be a cause of asthma and lung cancer.
Question: Could the data be used for public awareness?
Not at the moment, as the data needs to be worked on to take account of weather conditions and this is an extremely time-consuming task. Unfortunately, the data is not predictive.
Question: Are there sensors within the Cowley LTNs and/or on the adjacent arterial roads which would show the effect of this scheme?
There is one on the junction of Cowley Road and Marsh Lane but it has only recently been installed. However, there is a sensor on Divinity Road which will give comparative data once the East Oxford LTNs are introduced. Sensors will also measure the effect of the ZEZ (but no marked changes are anticipated) as well as the introduction of Quickways in April/May.
Question: Are you able to measure happiness or well-being?
Sadly not – but public health impacts are measurable. The team is interested in investigating the link between air quality and mental health but no resources are available for this at present.
Comment: The introduction of cleaner buses in 2014 made a big difference to air quality which is generally not recognised.
Comment: Air quality is very bad on cold days with very little wind.
Question: Is there a difference in air quality on streets in the city centre with and without buses?
This data is not yet available.