HUNDREDS flocked to city landmarks as Southampton held its first clean air day.

Promoting air quality and alternative transport, events were held at Westquay, the Bargate and Southampton General Hospital throughout the day.

The inaugural event was put on by Southampton City Council in support of the countrywide initiative, National Clean Air Day, a bid to improve air quality within the city.

Pollution is responsible for 110 deaths in Southampton each year and is estimated to cost the local NHS an annual £50 million.

The national initiative is supported by public health England, UN environment and multiple council’s across the country, in an effort to see people leave cars at home and spread the importance of alternative transport for the day.

In February, Southampton, London and four other cities warned Prime Minister Theresa May that air pollution is not a problem councils alone can solve.

City councillor Christopher Hammond, cabinet member for transformation projects said the first step was to help residents understand what the issues are.

Cllr Hammond said: “We are committed to improving air quality. The first step is helping people understand what the issues are and what they can do to help improve it for the benefit of everyone.

“Supporting national clean air day and leading the way as one of the campaign’s focus cities is one way we hope to achieve this and raise awareness of the issue.

“Reducing emissions and improving air quality today will bring about long-term benefits, making Southampton a great place to work, live, visit and do business.”

Clean air Southampton, an environmentalist group in the city, was set up in April last year to try and tackle pollution.

Colin MacQueen has been a member of the group since it began, and said the impact of pollution is impacting people more and more every day.

Colin, 67, said: “People you think would be really up to date with the state of the air in the city, just aren’t at all, and it’s a bit worrying. The impacts of it hit people more and more every day that passes.

“The point of the clean air day is to bring a lot of different people together and show them that there are common, everyday alternatives to these problems.”

Jonathan Bingham, chairman of Southampton City Cycling, said it was vital to show people the alternatives available.

He said: “Public transport isn’t as good as it can be, but people need to realise what you can do with a bicycle. I’d love more people to cycle, and today is all about showing what they can do, and what we can do.

“My electric bike is a huge part of everything I do, and cars need to be less relied upon. Ultimately, less people on the roads would make Southampton a nicer place to work and live.”