Kirkstall councillor suggests authority should stock up on radiation monitors

Concerns: Cllr John Illingworth

By David Spereall, local democracy reporter

Leeds City Council should stock up on radiation monitors in the unlikely event of a nuclear strike, a Kirkstall councillor has claimed.

Labour’s John Illingworth said having a public supply of such monitors to hand “would be a sensible thing”.

Government officials in the West have consistently downplayed the prospect of nuclear war since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February this year, despite rising tensions. Both the UK’s and the US’ nuclear capability is thought to be far stronger than that of Russia.

But while insisting he didn’t want to “raise alarm” at a council audit committee meeting on Monday, Councillor Illingworth asked officials for an assurance Leeds was prepared for “that kind of disaster”.

Councillor Illingworth, who is retiring next May, said: “I asked recently if the (local) authority had access to radiation monitors.

“I didn’t get a very satisfactory answer. I get the impression the answer is ‘no’.

“In light of recent events in Ukraine and so forth, it seems to me having a decent issue of radiation monitors might be a sensible thing to do. Likewise supplies of fresh water and tinned food.

“I don’t want to raise alarm but obviously it’s been in the news.

“It’s not a ridiculous and remote possibility. I’d like some assurance we’re prepared for that kind of disaster.”

In response, the council’s emergency planning officer confirmed the authority did not have any radiation monitors.

But she said that information was publicly available to help households prepare for all kinds of emergencies.

Leanne Cummings said: “With regard to clean and fresh drinking water and tinned food and access to those, we have warning and informing information available on the internet to residents and the people of Leeds.

“That looks at how to prepare a household emergency plan, looking at how you would access fresh drinking water, how to heat tinned food and alternatives like that.”

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