RESIDENTS are struggling to walk down high streets in Wokingham because air pollution levels are so high, councillors have claimed.

Representative for Twyford, Cllr John Jarvis, suggested the problem was so bad in his ward residents have had ambulances called out for them because of the respiratory problems they have suffered with while out in the area.

At a meeting of Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC) licensing committee, Cllr Oliver Whittle suggested poor air quality in Wokingham and Twyford was a “big problem” and urged members of the council to look at what the licensing committee can do to “introduce measures to help reduce pollution”.

Cllr John Jarvis later added: “We need to know what is being done here. I have people in the area who can not walk down the high street because as they walk down they get a respiratory problem. There have been times that ambulances get called out.”

Last year, The News reported poor air quality led to 11 preventable deaths per 100,000 people in Wokingham in 2015.

A report from July 2018 outlined 5.6 per cent of all deaths in the borough came from causes related to air pollution.

The report also suggested air pollution can make people ill for a number of years.

Chairman of the licensing committee Cllr Barrie Patman told colleagues the committee would “look at this issue in more detail” at future meetings.

But the July 2018 report noted WBC needed to do more to make the public more aware of the dangers of air pollution, more effort should be made to shift attitudes away from using private cars and to potentially install more electric car charging points.

Most of the air pollutants in Wokingham borough come from vehicles using the M4 motorway, where dangerous nitrogen dioxide is heavily emitted.

Foetuses and those who live in deprived areas are also more susceptible to the negative effects of poor air pollution, according to the report.

More than 6 per cent of Wokingham’s population has asthma, but this figure rises amongst children as 11 per cent of under 19s have the condition.

And in 2017, care services saw 44 emergency admissions for asthma from under 19-year-olds.

Councillors called for more action at a licensing and appeals committee meeting on Tuesday, March 19.