Friday 15 December 2017

Tory MP calls for moves for quieter towns and cities

An MP wants emergency vehicles to be discouraged from using sirens after midnight
An MP wants emergency vehicles to be discouraged from using sirens after midnight

Loud conversations on telephones and emergency vehicles using their sirens after midnight should be discouraged to help create quiet towns and cities, an MP has said.

Conservative Mark Pritchard also wants "polite notices" on public transport to suggest people set their phones on vibrate or silent, while ministers should work with manufacturers to stop doors on vehicles making a noise when they are shut.

The MP for t he Wrekin, Shropshire, suggested other ways to reduce noise pollution, including Government departments working to encourage "low noise tyres" for vehicles and "silent road surfaces".

He added there should be a "national conversation about how we make this country quieter".

Environment minister Rory Stewart said towns and cities should be encouraged to take the lead in "creating a culture around tranquillity ", as MPs debated the concept of quiet cities.

Moving the Westminster Hall debate, Mr Pritchard said: "The right to some respite from noise, constant noise, needs to be a central feature of Government policy, part of its strategy, not a by-product of another Government policy, a consequence of that policy.

"On my own observations, I think the Government should work with motor manufacturers to encourage all cars and vehicles to have linings which stop their doors making noises when they are slammed shut.

"A simple rubber lining would make a huge difference - metal on metal makes noise.

"And even slamming doors in this own House of Commons - where the doors are lined the doors close quietly, where they're not lined they slam and they create noise pollution.

"Emergency vehicles should reduce using their very loud sirens after midnight. The blue flashing lights alert people enough of their presence in the dark and discretion should be allowed.

"Even walking down the streets here in Westminster, sometimes the ambulances that are going out to save lives - and we respect that and we recognise that and they have to get through heavy traffic - some of the sirens are so ear-piercing compared to other emergency services.

"For example, the ambulances do seem - anecdotally - to be far louder than the police and perhaps there's a reason for that but do they need to be used after midnight when the blue lights can be seen? That is a point of public debate I think we should have."

Mr Pritchard went on: "Perhaps on public transport systems should we set polite notices - we can't compel people to do things - but can we encourage people through polite notices asking people to set their phones on to vibrate or silent?"

He added: " I think there needs to be a national conversation about how we make this country quieter, how we make our cities quieter and towns quieter.

"Even polite notices about loud conversations on telephones, which I'm sure has been an irritant to us all, and I confess I've probably done it myself, I need to do it less.

"Now I've made this speech I'll probably do it less."

Replying for the Government, Mr Stewart said: "I really would encourage cities and towns around the country to think seriously about the way in which different towns ranging from... Hertford to Brisbane have managed to really create a culture around tranquillity, the ways in which British towns and cities could take the lead in creating a culture around tranquillity.

"And in doing so accept that from the very beginnings of the human language perhaps the most fundamental word - spiritually, emotionally, physically - has been the concept of peace."

Press Association

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