Marlborough Town Council is to re-examine traffic issues raised in a damning report on the “putrid” level of life-threatening air pollution in the town centre.

The report also reveals that market traders have quit the town because “having to work in the most anti-social, polluted, dirty and congested area was affecting their health”.

In his report, Cllr. Nicholas Fogg proposes changes to the High Street to try improve air quality.

It was first prepared for councillors last year, during lockdown but was brought to the attention of the planning committee on Monday [Oct 25] and is now to go to the full council for consideration.

The town centre is notorious as one of the most polluted areas in Wiltshire. It was first declared an Air Quality Management Area 11 years ago.

In August, it was reported that 10,000 vehicle journeys are made through the town each day – which totals 40 million journeys since the air was first measured as “unsafe” in 2010.

Cllr Fogg said: “Long-term monitoring has demonstrated that levels of toxicity in parts of the town are well above the level categorised as dangerous.

“In parts of the town, the air at times can only be described as putrid. It is now recognised that the respiratory conditions arising from such a situation are the greatest single cause of disability and death in the UK in normal times.”

Following a directive from the Ministry of Transport that councils take action on changing town centres to improve the health of residents and visitors, Cllr Fogg’s report proposes that the council consider changes to the High Street and in particular the Saturday market.

Cllr Fogg said: “I cannot think of a market that is held in a more polluted place than the one in Marlborough and a great deal of consumables are sold there.

"That is why I always go early to the market, hopefully before the adulteration caused by pollution has taken its full effect.

“As well as the obvious dangers of toxicity, the market causes a mingling of pedestrians with passing traffic, which is a very bad idea.

“It is tempting to suggest that the market should be moved to the less polluted area of the Parade, but I don’t think that would work either from a consumers’ or traders’ point-of-view, since the obvious focal point of Marlborough shopping is Waitrose.

“Instead, the Saturday market should be moved to the north side of the High Street between the Town Hall apron and the bus stop. This would reduce considerably pollution since the stalls would face away from the carriageway.

“It would also eliminate the danger to pedestrians. Stalls could even be located for a short way along the arm of the High Street that extends to the north side of the Town Hall. An added bonus of such a scheme would be that it would create a temporary shopping precinct extending to the junction with Silverless Street."

“This would be greatly to the benefit of the businesses in the area, which suffer from being somewhat on the fringe of things.