CIVIC chiefs will be taking to the streets of Southampton this morning in a bid to tackle the city’s pollution issues.

Councillors from Southampton City Council will be speaking to drivers around the Civic Centre, Southampton Central train station and close to Ikea to educate them about the impact of leaving the car engine on while stationary.

Launched as part of the Clean Air Network’s ‘No-Idling’ campaign, the event will be part of a regular scheme to combine with billboard messages around the city until the beginning of April.

Drivers are being urged to turn off their engines if they are stationary in traffic for longer than 30 seconds.

The city was among more than 40 places across the UK named by the World Health Organisation for breaching safety levels in 2016 for pollution levels.

One councillor who will be on the streets from 9.30am is portfolio holder for sustainable living, Cllr Christopher Hammond.

He said: “Idling your car for longer than 30 seconds is a waste of fuel, detrimental to your health and unnecessarily adding to the pollution in the city.

“This No Idling campaign, is helping to raise awareness in pollution hotspots and by engaging with people, helping to change behaviour.”

A spokesperson for the AA said: “The other option is a fine. If drivers don’t turn their engines off when the are idle then they could be issued with a fine.

“Having said that, the council can’t be too heavy-handed.

“You see people sitting there checking their messages, not knowing the damage they are doing to their own health, the driver behind, and the environment.”

The council will be speaking to drivers who are parked around the city’s car parks, and pedestrians. They won’t be approaching those sitting in traffic.

Liz Batten, of Clean Air Southampton, said: “If you’re sitting in traffic and people in front of you are leaving their engines running, you’re breathing it.

“The damage is inside their own car.

“Once people know about the difference turning your engine off can have, they are usually quite happy to do it. Onslow Road and Cranbury Avenue and Onslow Road are always busy, so I would like to see some education going on there.”

Richard Tyldsley, Bluestar general manager said: “We are fully committed to helping improve air quality in Southampton and actively train our drivers to limit any effect their vehicles have. We fully support any initiative and are meeting with the council to assist in this campaign.”