Councils in court over asthma cases

TWO LONDON boroughs face judicial review next month over claims that they have failed to take action to reduce the incidence of asthma.

Personal injury firm Leigh Day & Co is taking Bromley Council to court on 6 December after it refused to allow a four-year-old asthmatic resident to switch from a school situated by local roads to one of the borough's two other schools on leafy backstreets.

The parents of Amelia Sassoon, who had been assigned a place at Burnt Ash School, asked the council to find an alternative placement for their daughter after medical evidence showed her asthma would worsen if she attended a school by a road. The council refused and the decision is now set for review.

The London Borough of Greenwich also faces the court on 19 December after it claimed it was not legally entitled to shut Trafalgar Road on days when temperature inversion caused pollution to collect like a blanket over the area.

Leigh Day & Co joint senior partner Martyn Day contacted the council earlier this year saying that under section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984 it had the power to shut the throughway on approximately 20 days each year when temperature inversion occurs.

Expert evidence obtained by the firm showed that on those days particulate matter, the key component of vehicle pollution, was up to five times the safety level recently recommended by the Government.

“A successful result in either case will put a shot across the bows of local authorities across the land in ensuring they take whatever steps they can to improve the position for asthma sufferers.”

A spokeswoman for Bromley said that the Sassoon family had turned down two alternative schools of equal status and that in all three the pollution count was too low to have endangered any child.

Greenwich Council declined to comment.