Glasgow’s transport convener has ruled out relaxing Low Emission Zone rules over the festive period after a Labour councillor suggested the move could “encourage” people into the city centre.

Cllr Angus Millar, SNP, said the proposal would be “contrary” to the aims of the LEZ, which is a “public health measure” targeting “the most polluting vehicles”.

He also said there is “a great deal of concern around disinformation” over air quality levels, as he reported “consistent breaches of the legal limits”.

The convener for climate, transport and city centre recovery was responding to a question from Labour’s Saqib Ahmed. During a full council meeting, Cllr Ahmed asked whether the council was working with operators to “ensure there are no last-minute cancellations of bus service over the festive period”.

He added: “In addition to that, are there any plans to relax LEZ rules during the festive period to encourage more people to visit our city centre?”

Cllr Millar said the council has “no control” over bus service planning, but the issue had been discussed at Glasgow City Region Bus Partnership.

“Operators have said that some issues resulting in last-minute cancellations earlier in the year, such as driver shortages, are now looking to be abating,” he added.

A joint campaign, including the council, ScotRail, the Subway and Glasgow Taxis, has been launched to encourage people “to make the switch to public transport” when organising celebrations over the festive period.

On the LEZ, Cllr Millar said there are “no plans to relax” the rules. “Indeed, this would be contrary to the LEZ scheme design which was approved by the council and endorsed by the Scottish Ministers,” he added.

“As Cllr Ahmed is aware, the LEZ is a public health measure which targets the most polluting vehicles whose emissions disproportionately contribute to illegal levels of air pollution recorded in the city centre. 

“The default position for all LEZs across Scotland as they are coming online is that they operate at all times, as the potential impacts of those emissions on people’s health problems and the wider health inequalities we see in our cities are also in place at all times.”

Cllr Blair Anderson, Greens, asked whether there was “any indication so far of some of the health benefits and the environmental benefits” of the LEZ. He added: “Would the councillor agree with my concerns about the amount of disinformation that is being spread online about the reality of air quality in the city?”

Cllr Millar said: “I would certainly agree that there is a great deal of concern around disinformation within the city as regards to air quality levels and the consistent breaches of the legal limits of air pollution that we have within the city centre.”

He said the reality had been “laid bare” in an annual air quality report which showed “significant exceedances of the statutory mean objective for nitrogen dioxide at a number of locations throughout the city centre” in 2022.

“That’s why it is so important that we continue to progress our measures to combat air pollution which we know disproportionately contributes to health problems within the city.”

Cllr Millar said after the LEZ has been in operation for one year, there will be a statutory review of its impact and air quality levels.