On the actonw3.com website Cllr Mahfouz has responded to criticisms that the council is not doing enough to clean up Horn Lane. He uses council officersâ€™ somewhat misleading bar chart to argue that â€œPM10 levels have dropped quite considerably in recent yearsâ€.
Once you strip out the distraction of what happened some years ago you are left with an essentially flat picture that says that Horn Lane has been hovering around the annual limit value for the protection of human health laid down in EU directive 1999/30/EC of 40ug/m3 for PM10s. Cllr Mahfouz seems to think that this an OK place to be. It isnâ€™t.
Cllr Mahfouz is unwise to be so complacent about this issue. When his boss Cllr Bell had these figures brought to his attention he had the good sense to at least promise to take action. Last Tuesday when the council invited West Acton Residents Association (WARA) to meet with officers and Cllr Bell, he suggested that he would contact Chris Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, who was his boss in a previous life.
By Thursday, at the Overview and Scrutiny meeting called by the Conservative opposition on the council, this promise had developed into an â€œAir Quality Summit for Horn Laneâ€. Cllr Mahfouz was at that meeting and would have heard the committee ask that both local councillors and representatives of residents associations be invited to take part. This is potentially a good result for residents, although they will be sceptical as previous meetings with the Environment Agency at Parliament arranged by local MP Angie Bray did not produce obvious progress.
The opposition has successfully used the mechanisms of the council to raise this issue up the administrationâ€™s agenda. Cllr Bell seems to be listening. Cllr Mahfouz not so much.