A section of the M8 motorway that runs through the centre of Glasgow could eventually be downgraded to a ‘boulevard’, as councillors agreed to look at reducing the impact the motorway has on the city.
Parts of the motorway in Glasgow may also become subject to the city’s low emission zone rules, and see motorists having to obey tighter speed restrictions among other changes.
And one councillor described the road as a “scar” that tore through communities when it was built, while another said it was “standing in the way” of creating healthy neighbourhoods.
In the short-term councillors want plan to find ways to “mitigate” its impact and in the long term potentially downgrade the city centre stretch to a “boulevard,” a full council meeting heard today.
They want to talk to the Scottish Government over a range of actions as the M8 is owned and controlled by Transport Scotland.
Saying how much has changed since the motorway was built in the 1960s, Councillor Christy Mearns, Scottish Greens, said: “Our future prosperity indeed now relies on reversing these transport ‘solutions’ of the past – from the eradication of our trams, to the intensive road-building agenda, which together have encouraged car-use, accelerated climate change, and compounded poor health and inequality.”
Bringing forward a composite motion seconded by SNP councillor Angus Millar, councillor Mearns said the motorway stands in the way of creating liveable and healthy neighbourhoods as many people live on its edges in Anderson, Cowcaddens and Townhead among others.
Referring to the recent climate IPCC report, She said: “We’ve got just seven years to meet our own ambitious target of a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in car kilometres by 2030, yet despite best efforts, we’re sadly nowhere close. If we’re serious about turning this around, we must look urgently at the M8.”
Councillor Millar, convenor for transport added: “The conversation the council is looking to take forward with the Scottish Government over the future of the M8’s city centre stretch is wide ranging, and I am delighted that we have agreed cross-party support for this work at full council today.”
The politician has already written to the government asking for a range of measures to be considered included slower speeds.
The composite motion from the SNP and Scottish Greens was agreed along with adjustments from Labour.
Commenting on the impact of car emissions on people’s health, SNP councillor Paul Leinster said: “Toxins in the air from pollution contribute to hundreds of deaths in the city.”
And SNP councillor Eva Bolander described the M8 as a “monstrosity” and voiced support for proposals to examine downgrading the Clydeside Expressway as a potential “test case.”
There was opposition to the proposals however, with the Conservatives lodging an amendment saying “proposals to close the M8, introduce a low emission zone on the M8 or to reduce the speed on the M8 to 30mph are not practical and would likely damage the city’s economy and the jobs, which people in our city rely on.”
The other parties were in broad agreement however.
Labour councillor Jim Kavanagh said: “We need to stop talking and start doing.”
Councilor Holly Bruce, Scottish Greens, said: “Glasgow is the only city in Europe with a motorway cutting through its centre.”
And Councillor Chris Cunningham, SNP, pointed out Glasogw has “one of the lowest car ownership levels in Europe.”
He added: “We need to reduce the level of car usage on the M8.”
Stressing the importance in involving Glasgow residents in any decisions, councillor Matt Kerr, Labour said: “We need to take people with us.”
On the LEZ, the passed motion said the council “believes that the role of the M8 within Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone should be considered, including relevant powers and scope, between Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council as part of review of its implementation.”
The agreed motion asked for the council’s chief executive to bring a paper to committee outlining progress on the dialogue with the Scottish Government, specific actions requested and identifying next steps.
It added: “Council requests the Convener (councillor Angus Millar) write to the newly appointed Transport Minister to welcome them to their post, update them on previous correspondence on these issues and the outcome of this council motion, request an update on the delivery plan for STPR2 including Clyde Metro, and invite them to attend a cross-party meeting to discuss the issues raised.”
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