ULEZ Demonstration Photographs

Despite the fact that the demonstration on the 28th January was postponed and we even sent out a notice of cancellation to our contacts based on what the organisers said on Facebook, there were a large number of people turned up for the event.

See photographs above which demonstrate the strength of opposition to extension of the ULEZ to outer London.

We will notify of any further such demonstrations.

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Avoiding the ULEZ and Travel Mode Trends

Several outer London boroughs say they will try to frustrate the extension of the ULEZ scheme by refusing TfL permission to put up cameras or signs. The response of the Mayor, who seems to think that he holds a “Divine Right of Mayors” to do whatever he wants, is that they can enforce it by just putting up cameras on traffic lights which they do control.

But this is not as simple as they make out. For example as a resident of Chislehurst in the London Borough of Bromley I can escape from the ghetto to reach the M20 and M25 without going through any traffic lights. I can also get into central Bromley by using alternative minor roads. In addition if TfL cannot put up warning signs it will make ULEZ penalties unenforceable.

Sadiq Khan surely needs to reconsider his plans which he is now promoting by repeatedly lying about the impact of air pollution in London on deaths. There are no deaths directly attributable to air pollution and only one where it was considered a contributory factor when the person concerned suffered from other serious medical problems.

The motivation for extending the ULEZ is clearly financial as it will have negligible impact on air pollution and all the extra cameras installed as a result will enable a road charging scheme for ALL vehicles to be introduced!

One justification given by the Mayor for the ULEZ is to reduce the increase in traffic and tackle congestion. But private car use has been falling for some years. See the chart above which gives the trends in travel modes over the last 20 years in London.

Increases in traffic congestion have been caused by reductions in road space and mismanagement of the road network by TfL.

Roger Lawson

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Legal Fundraising on ULEZ Expansion and Trafalgar Square Demo

There is a legal claim for a judicial review of the ULEZ expansion being formulated and a fund to finance the action has been set up. See https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/stop-ulez-expansion/

This appears to be a credible case so we recommend that you support it by making a donation as we have done. The basis of the case will be that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, failed to take into consideration the replies to the ULEZ expansion consultation and other factors, made false statements about the expansion of the ULEZ and otherwise attempted to manipulate the results of the consultation.

PLEASE MAKE A DONATION TO SUPPORT THE LEGAL ACTION

Important Note: The demonstration against the ULEZ planned for the 28th January in Trafalgar Square has been postponed because of concerns on security. We will advise any new date when available.

Roger Lawson

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London Boroughs Against ULEZ Expansion

A number of London Boroughs have issued a joint statement condemning the proposed expansion of the ULEZ scheme. This is what they issued:


Bromley Council were particularly vociferous with comments that included this comment from Councillor Colin Smith: “The ‘scheme’ isn’t actually about air quality in the final analysis. The stealthy, unstated and cynical intention remains, under the guise of ULEZ, to erect a network of traffic cameras across the whole of the Capital which can then be used at the flick of a switch to introduce road price charging for all”.

Together with the other London Boroughs opposed to the expansion they are considering a legal challenge and have issued a pre-action protocol letter. See  https://www.bromley.gov.uk/news/article/440/lawfulness-questions-about-ulez-expansion for the full announcement.

The London Borough of Richmond has also come out against the ULEZ expansion and according to a report in the Daily Mail the borough of Sutton will refuse planning permission for ULEZ signs and other services such as electricity cables. They will not co-operate with TfL in any way.

Meanwhile central Government claims to have taken legal advice on blocking Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion and deny they can do this. But they have two options: 1) Change the Greater London Authority Act 1999 which is alleged to authorise this, or threaten to do so; or 2) Withdraw any further funding to TfL, or threaten to do so. No more financial support would kill off any expenditure by TfL to install the cameras and other equipment for the expansion and put the Mayor into an impossible financial situation.

The Government ultimately has the power to change legislation that covers London and that includes the power to remove the Mayor if necessary! So they should stop hiding behind legal sophistry and take some action.

It is difficult to understand why the Government is not taking action on this. Are they hoping that if Sadiq Khan proceeds he will become so unpopular he will lose the election in 2024? But that is simply too late. We need less playing at politics and more immediate action!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

Campaigns Against ULEZ Expansion Increasing

The activities of campaigns against the expansion of the ULEZ to outer London are growing as people realise the financial impact it will have.

There is an active Facebook group named “Action Against ULEZ Extension” which you can join and they are promoting a demonstration in Trafalgar Square on the 28th January (Saturday) at 12.00 noon. Please attend if you can.

[Postscript: The Trafalgar Square event has had to be postponed due to concerns about security. We will advise any new date on this blog when available].

Gareth Bacon, MP for Orpington has been active in promoting opposition in South-East London, and Paul Scully, Conservative MP for Sutton and Cheam, is now raising donations to fund an opposition campaign – see: https://donate.conservatives.com/no-ulez?deliveryName=DM17310#!/

Paul says “This new tax will hit thousands of hardworking people and small businesses, just when they can least afford it”. He’s certainly right there and remember it will have negligible impact on air quality. It’s just another tax to bail out Sadiq Khan’s financial mismanagement.

Roger Lawson

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Mayor’s Budget – Another Stinker

Sadiq Khan has published a proposed budget for the GLA (including TfL) for 2023-24 (see https://www.london.gov.uk/who-we-are/governance-and-spending/spending-money-wisely/mayors-budget ).

This is yet again a budget reliant on central Government bail-outs rather than a budget that keeps expenditure within income. It’s a “spend, spend, spend” socialist budget.

1.       This budget again blames central Government for inadequate funding of London’s public services and in particular TfL (see page 4 Paragraph 1) when the budget has not been set so that the GLA operates within its available income. This is financially reckless.

2.       The document identifies a new concept of “climate budgeting” so as to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2030. This is financially impractical to achieve and asks effectively for even more central Government funding when there is no cost/benefit justification provided. See page 25.

3.       The budget proposes a substantial increase in “Strategy and Communications” (see page 33) which is not justified. The Mayor already spends too much on public relations and social media activities a lot of which is in essence political promotion of the Mayor.

4.       The budget includes the cost of expansion of the ULEZ to outer London which involves significant capital expenditure (see page 105). It is now budgeted that income from the CC, LEZ and ULEZ taxes will be over one billion pounds in 2023-24 (£1,028 million – see page 74). In effect private motorists and commercial vehicle operators are subsidising public transport losses within TfL. This is unfair and unreasonable. There is no financial justification for expansion of the ULEZ.

5.       The Mayor’s attempts to reduce traffic congestion by using taxation in the CC, LEZ and ULEZ schemes has proved to be totally ineffective. Recent media reports confirm that London is now the most congested city in the world. The budget does nothing to reverse this trend as there is no expenditure proposed to improve the roads or traffic flows.

6.       In summary, this budget is financially incompetent and continues to support expenditure that is higher than the income that TfL and the GLA will receive. This is not a budget set on sound financial principles but one set based on political prejudices and unrealistic policies.

Please send in your own objections to GLAbudget@london.gov.uk within the next two days.

Roger Lawson

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Evaluation of E-Scooter Trials – Safety is a Big Issue

There have been many reports of fatal or serious accidents involving e-scooter riders. Are they safe or provide other benefits to offset the risks to users and to pedestrians with whom they often collide?

There have been a number of Government sponsored trials of e-scooters which are subject to specific regulations imposed on users and on the providers. There has recently been a report on the trials published by Arup (see link below) which answers some of the questions that might be asked. But it does not cover the widespread illegal use of e-scooters which are ridden recklessly, including on pavements and without the speed limit imposed on trial users, by people not registered in such trials.

The Arup report notes that based on their surveys of users e-scooters have acted as a mode of transport in-between walking and cycling in terms of average trip distance. In fact there was a large diversion from “active” travel modes of walking and cycling to e-scooter user and relatively less from private car use.

Based on analysis of STATS19 data the casualty rate is about 3 times that of pedal cyclists. That may be due to the relative inexperience of the users of e-scooters but the users also perceived them as less safe and 63% reported injuries which is a very high number.  PACTS have reported 15 deaths to date involving e-scooters and a large number of accidents involve no other parties,

One objective of the trials was “to increase the availability of low-carbon transport options” but promoting cycling or walking appear to be safer options.

There are a number of interesting detail comments from users reported in the survey. Potholes and uneven road surfaces were a common problem while technical problems such as limited battery life were frequent complaints.

In summary the Arup report provides some interesting data but it is certainly not clear that the environmental benefits offset the negative safety aspects of e-scooters. Just like the more active promotion of cycling is leading to more road casualties, so will the use of e-scooters.

Moving people from walking will provide negative health benefits and it is not at all clear that there are other significant benefits provided by e-scooters. The Government must surely look at much tighter regulation or outright bans – particularly of unregistered users – if e-scooters are to be allowed.

Arup Report: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-evaluation-of-e-scooter-trials-report

Roger Lawson

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St. Pauls Gyratory Redesign

The City of London Corporation are planning to redesign the roads near St. Pauls in the City. The existing layout is shown above.

You can see some draft proposals and respond to a survey on how you currently use the area by going here: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/streets/traffic-schemes-and-proposals/st-pauls-gyratory  . But it does not invite your comments on the proposals, or which option you might prefer.

It is not at all clear what benefits would be obtained from this expensive scheme and there is no information provided on the likely impact on traffic flows.

Roger Lawson

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The Financial Lunacy of the ULEZ Expansion

The London Evening Standard have published a good article highlighting the financial lunacy of the ULEZ scheme. By 2027 they suggest that the scheme will generate zero income even though it will cost £160 million to implement the expansion.

TfL might recover the £160m in the first year from charges but the vehicle population will rapidly become compliant and after that the cost of running the scheme might exceed income from charges on non-compliant vehicles and fines.

Of course that assumes that the vehicle standards remain the same but don’t bet on that! The Mayor could use the new cameras to impose a London-wide charging scheme on all vehicles which is clearly his ambition.

The article also reports that some boroughs may try to frustrate operation by blocking the erection of cameras which no doubt many residents of the outer London boroughs will welcome.

Comment: This is yet another example of the financial incompetence of Sadiq Khan. Spending money to enable the collection of more taxes is just another financial imposition on London residents that will increase the cost of living.

Remember there is no significant improvement in air quality from the ULEZ expansion. It’s just a money-making scheme.

Evening Standard article: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/ulez-expansion-sadiq-khan-pollution-scheme-300m-zero-2027-london-vehicles-b1050769.html

Roger Lawson

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The Myth of the 15-Minute City

The latest attack on the use of motor vehicles is the promotion of the concept of the “15-Minute City”. This is a concept where most daily necessities can be accomplished by either walking or cycling from residents’ homes. Irrespective of the practicality of it, such a scheme can be enforced by splitting a city into neighbourhoods and banning vehicles from driving from one zone into another.

The cities of Oxford and Bath have launched proposals for such schemes.

Oxfordshire County Council, which is run by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, wants to divide the city of Oxford into six districts. In these districts, it is suggested that most household essentials will be accessible by a quarter-of-an-hour walk or bike ride, and so residents will have no need for a car. The council plans to cut car use and traffic congestion by placing strict rules on car journeys. Under the proposals, if residents drive outside of their designated district more than 100 days per year they could be fined £70. Labour councillor Duncan Enright, cabinet member for travel and development strategy, has already declared that the policy is ‘going to happen, definitely’ irrespective of the outcome of a public consultation.

In Bath the City Council is proposing to split the city into four “cells”. Vehicles would be prohibited from driving from one cell into another. They are also pushing for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods to be implemented.

The concept of 15-minute cities was conceived on the continent where cities like Paris have promoted the idea. But nobody has shown them to be practical in the modern world. We no longer have a range of specialist shops within easy walking distance and the elderly and incapacitated cannot walk or cycle for 15 minutes. Health facilities such as hospitals are rarely within 15 minutes walk and even general practices now tend to be in larger buildings serving a wider area. The single-handed GP serving a local community is long dead.

People have come to rely on cars – either their own or taxi/minicab/PHV services – to get around. And it’s rare that people only have friends and family within 15 minutes as some move house to cheaper neighbourhoods further out from city centres. Jobs are also now rarely available in a local area so travel is required if you want to improve yourself or earn more money – even in London public transport does not always provide a practical commuting route.

Politicians who support this concept rarely consider the practical impacts of what they are proposing and ignore those who object.

As we move into a New Year, this is just the latest example of how motor vehicles and those who use them are being prejudiced by the policies of tin-pot dictators in local councils. They think they know what is good for us but really don’t. The Government should remove the powers from local councils to destroy the road network by closing roads or limiting how they are used.

Roger Lawson

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