THE strictest Covid-19 lockdown measures did not see the district’s air quality improve to the extent that a review of a planned clean air zone would be necessary.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of Bradford Council’s regeneration and environment overview and scrutiny committee, where councillors were discussing a procurement worth more than £2 million of automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) cameras and network connection infrastructure for the planned zone.

Geographically, the clean air zone will include Bradford city centre, from the outer ring road, extending up the Canal Road corridor and Manningham Lane into Shipley and Saltaire – but it would have implications for all those travelling into the area from the Keighley district. Although private cars would not be charged for entering the zone, HGVs, buses, taxis and coaches that do not meet clean air standards would be charged up to £50 a day.

Councillor David Heseltine said: “I think we all realise that things need to be done, particularly in some of the hotspots and particularly where there are schools and densely-packed housing. I am sort of wondering why we are charging ahead, when next door in Leeds they seem to have called a halt on it and are reviewing how the changing traffic patterns due to Covid might affect the process. Is this something we should be doing, rather than running headlong into buying a load of cameras?”

Richard Gelder, highway services manager at Bradford Council, said a lot of work was done at the start of the first lockdown in March in recognition that there would be less traffic on the road network.

He said: “One of the things we’ve done is actually undertaken dedicated road traffic counts and air quality monitoring just to monitor the impact of Covid on the air quality in Bradford district to determine if we can see that massive drop below the intervention level of 40 micrograms for nitrogen dioxide.

“We haven’t seen a reduction below the threshold level in Bradford, even during the worst lockdown measures.”

He added: “Our data has shown we still have a problem.

“I’d like to say that we could follow Leeds.

“However Leeds will probably have to revisit its decision at some point in the future, as we emerge from Covid and levels start going back to pre -lockdown traffic volumes.”