Mayor Ignores Consultation and Goes Ahead with ULEZ Expansion

Sadiq Khan has issued a statement via TfL confirming that he is expanding the ULEZ to the whole of London in August 2023 (see link below). Any owners of non-compliant cars will be paying £12.50 per day, every day. This decision is despite the fact that it will have minimal impact on air pollution in London and that a major proportion of London residents oppose the change.

The Mayor has announced a scrappage scheme for some people (the disabled and those on means-tested benefits plus small businesses) but in reality very few people are likely to qualify for this support and it is unlikely to cover all the costs of changing vehicles.

The big danger is once the scheme is introduced with new cameras everywhere to enforce it the Mayor could decide to charge all vehicles driving in London which he has always wanted to do. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The only way this move can be stopped is if the Government removes Sadiq Khan from power, or removes his ability to make these kinds of decisions. Please write to your M.P. on this – go to this web site to do that easily: https://www.writetothem.com/. DO IT NOW!

TfL Statement: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/ulez-expansion-2023

Report to the Mayor on ULEZ Expansion: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/15619/widgets/58629/documents/34558

FFDF Environment and the ULEZ: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/environment

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New Chislehurst CPZ

Bromley Council is pushing ahead with a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) in central Chislehurst. According to a letter they have distributed from a survey they did of residents 77% supported the introduction of a CPZ and they now plan to extend the area covered to even more roads.

As we have repeatedly said in the past, CPZs do not solve parking problems, particularly when it is resident’s own cars that are filling up the roads (as in the picture above of Albany Road). See this page of our web site for more information on CPZs: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/parking-traffic-offences

Of course as always the Council has a financial interest in promoting CPZs. Residents will be paying £100 per annum initially but no doubt more in future as once in place the charges always go up over time.

Bromley residents can see the wide area to be covered and respond to the public consultation here:  https://www.bromley.gov.uk/parking/proposed-chislehurst-controlled-parking-zone-cpz

Roger Lawson

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Wandsworth 20 Limit Evasion and How to Object

I commented previously on the new scheme to enforce a 20-mph speed limit by the London Borough of Wandsworth – see https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/10/27/a-new-money-making-wheeze-for-london-councils/

I have asked the Council to provide information on what public consultation took place on this proposal and a copy of the Traffic Management Order (TMO) used to impose it (which was not published anywhere so far as I can see). They provided the latter but were very evasive about the former even though they claim they received 23 responses. I am pursuing it further.

But I have sent in an objection to the TMO as follows and I suggest readers do the same.

To the London Borough of Wandsworth

Email address:  TrafficAndEngineering@richmondandwandsworth.gov.uk

I refer to “The Wandsworth (Prescribed Routes) (20mph Speed Limit) Experimental Order 2021”

Please note our objections to this Order for the following reasons:

1. The 20-mph limit on the roads concerned is likely to have very little, if any, impact on road casualties. I quote from a recent article in the Daily Mail: “Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, Edinburgh University and the University of Cambridge collected data on traffic collisions, casualties, driver speed and traffic volume before a 20mph limit was introduced, as well as one and three years afterwards.

Their study encompassed 76 streets in the city centre, and they compared data with that collected from nearby streets where the restrictions did not apply. Analysis showed that when compared with the sites that had retained their speed limits, a 20mph speed limit was associated with little change in short or long-term

Small reductions in road traffic collisions of 3 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, were observed one and three years after the policy took effect. But there was no statistically significant difference over time, the researchers said.

Similarly, casualty rates fell by 16 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, one and three years after implementation – but these reductions also weren’t statistically significant”.

2. The above evidence is similar to what the DfT reported some years ago and you can read our comments on that here: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2018/11/23/no-road-safety-benefit-from-20-mph-schemes/ . Limits of 20 mph typically only reduce traffic speeds by 1 mph which is not noticeable in practice.

3. The roads on which you are enforcing the 20 limit are inappropriate for a 20 limit. For example Wimbledon Park Road is a straight and relatively wide road which drivers will not perceive as needing a 20 limit. Is there really a road safety problem in this road?

4. The ability of the Council to enforce such a limit via the issue of PCNs rather than have police pursue a prosecution suggests the motive for the scheme is to enable the Council to collect money from fines rather than to improve road safety.

5. We have studied the relevant Acts of Parliament referred to in the TMO and we cannot see that they enable enforcement of the 20 limit in this way by Wandsworth Council. London Councils certainly have powers to enforce parking restrictions, road closures and certain other traffic offences but we do not see that this extends to 20-mph speed limits. Please point out exactly which provisions in those Acts are being relied upon.

Roger Lawson

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Profiting from Parking

The London Borough of Bromley have published proposals to raise parking charges and scrap all “pay and display” parking machines. It will be discussed at a Committee Meeting on the 22nd November. These are some of the key points:

  • Significant rises in both off and on street parking charges are proposed. For example for on-street parking charges might rise from 60p per hour to 80p per hour, a 33% increase. Charges do vary between locations and can be considerably more than that. The increase is to offset the reduction in the usage of parking no doubt because of the pandemic and increase in internet shopping. Parking charges were last reviewed four years ago so some increase may be justified to cope with inflation.
  • The increase in permit parking charges is very substantial – up from £50 to £80 for a resident’s permit – a 60% increase
  • Note that on-street parking and permit charges should not be used as a revenue raising measure as firmly established in legal precedents which the Council seems to be ignoring. These increases will result in substantial and unjustified surplus income over administration and enforcement costs. This paragraph from the report makes the motive clear: “In summary the various changes on this paper can potentially bring about savings/income of approx. £967k by 2024/25 to the Council which currently has significant budget pressures and a budget gap to fund in 2023/24 onwards”.
  • It is also proposed to remove all pay and display machines. The only way to pay for parking will be using the RingGo service via a smartphone. The justification for this is that the cash machines are subject to vandalism and also use a 3G sim card which will cease working in 2023 and replacement is costly. Also the machines are unreliable and reaching the end of their useful lives so need replacing which would be very expensive. A number of other London councils  already have “digital only” parking and 90% of people have a smartphone. You can see therefore there is some justification for this change but it will also raise parking costs. The minimum fee for one hour parking via RingGo is £1 while a cash payment is 60p – a 66% higher fee at present. I suggest some pay and display machines be retained and replaced by new models. Most of them have already been removed much to the inconvenience of residents.

In summary the Council should not be trying to fill its budget shortfall by raising parking charges and making payment less convenient. If car park usage is falling then raising charges will reduce usage even more so that is not a sensible answer to the problem of reduced income.

The Council is even proposing to introduce charges for the Sundridge Park car park which is currently free. The last time this was done the commuters who parked there promptly moved to the surrounding roads to the great annoyance of local residents and resulting in a financially unviable car park. Council employees seem to have short memories.

You can read the complete policy in Agenda Item 13h of the meeting (see link below). Parking provision should be a service for residents, not be used as a cash cow. This is unfortunately a spreading problem in all London Councils which should be condemned.

Environment and Community Services Policy Development and Scrutiny Committee: https://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=7373&x=1

Roger Lawson

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Bromley Traffic and Road Safety Policies

The London Borough of Bromley have published a document summarising the Councils Traffic and Road Safety Policies written by Angus Culverwell, Director of Traffic and Parking. It will be discussed at a Committee Meeting on the 22nd November. I have picked this out for review because it is a good example for other councils to follow. In essence a rational and logical policy within the financial resources available.

You can read the complete policy in Agenda Item 13e of the meeting (see link below), but I highlight a few points here:

The cost of various road engineering measures is given as follows (which those proposing such measures should bear in mind):

Example costs to install traffic engineering measures are set out here:

a) Zebra crossing – £25k to £50k, depending on location, necessity for anti-skid road surface, kerb realignments, presence of statutory services etc.

b) Signal controlled crossing – approximately £75k to £100k, depending on location.

c) Mini roundabout – £10k to £100k, depending upon location, need for deflection, existing road surface etc.

d) Full size roundabout – £120k+ according to size and location.

e) Speed table – £20k to £100k, depending on junction, need to raise or change footways etc.

f) Speed hump – £4k.

g) Traffic island or pedestrian refuge – £7k to £15k, depending on size.

h) Bike lane – these can vary hugely in cost depending on if they are set out simply with signs and road markings or are segregated from traffic, requiring changes to the infrastructure and possible relocation of utilities.

i) Flashing warning sign – £3k to £10k depending upon size, vehicle-activated or timed etc.

j) Road marking – £50 for a small one.

The presence of utility providers equipment, usually under the footway or carriageway, can greatly affect the cost of a scheme and may render it unviable. For example, relocating one telecommunications chamber can easily cost over £100k.

It’s worth pointing out that even if TfL are financing a review of the war memorial traffic lights in Chislehurst to see if pedestrian safety improvements can be made, you can see that any change to such a complex junction could be very expensive.

Other parts of the report worth quoting are:

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTN) and School Streets

Due to operational restraints, no school street will be installed in the borough unless the school is prepared to organise and operate them through the use of temporary, manned barriers. The Council will not approve LTNs with local roads blocked off and traffic diverted onto other roads. None of these schemes will be enforced using cameras.

Speeding

As a general rule, the Council will not instal any new 20mph limit or zones. This is because the reduction in speed limit through signs and road markings alone does not seem to have much effect on drivers’ speeds. Since the Council is unable to enforce these speed limits, it is an ineffective use of limited resources. The Council will install part-time 20mph limits at the beginning and end of the school day with flashing lights outside schools, decided on merit. In exceptional cases, full-time 20mph limits may be appropriate in certain locations such as High Streets.

Speed Humps

In the past, we have introduced road humps and tables to reduce traffic speeds and improve safety. However, the police, fire brigade, ambulance service and London Transport have objected to the proliferation of road humps and raised tables because of the increase in attendance times for emergency calls and discomfort and possible injury to their passengers.

Road humps and raised tables can also lead to complaints from residents about increased noise and vibration from traffic. For these reasons the council has decided not to introduce any further road humps in the borough and to only use tables as a last resort at a junction with an ongoing collision problem.

There is a range of alternative measures to encourage lower vehicle speeds, such as our vehicle activated warning signs, roadside posters, safer speed campaigns/events and driver/rider training programmes, such as the young driver traffic education scheme and Driven by Consequences.

Footway Parking

There is a London-wide ban on parking vehicles on the footway and verges. This is covered by Section 15 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974 which came into effect in 1985. However, the Council will consider exempting a road and allowing partial or full footway parking if an absolute minimum of 1m can be maintained on the footway for wheelchair and push chair users (in line with Disability Discrimination Act 1995 guidelines), if the footway is suitable for vehicle over-run and if there is a specific reason to allow footway parking. Parking on grass verges is prohibited.

In summary this is a well thought out policy not dictated by dogma or prejudice against vehicle users as in some other London Councils. But knowing the political climate at present, no doubt some councillors will not be happy.

Environment and Community Services Policy Development and Scrutiny Committee: https://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=7373&x=1

Roger Lawson

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Speed Camera Racket and HS2 Costs

The Daily Telegraph have published a couple of good articles today (13/11/2022). The first is entitled “The Great Speed-Camera Racket” and covers how 1.74 million drivers were caught speeding by cameras last year and forked out almost £46 million in fines.

The author describes how it is so easy to miss the new 20 mph limits in London and includes this comment: “If only speed limits were the end of it. But they’re not. Blundering into ever-expanding low-traffic neighbourhoods (fine), congestion zones (fine) or emissions zones (fine); bus lanes that suddenly rear out of the side of the road (fine); yellow box junctions set up like fiendish games of chance (fine) – it can all seem like a confusing, infuriating lottery in reverse. Instead of low odds you’ll win, there are high odds you’ll lose. Single streets – like Lansdowne Drive in Hackney – have earned councils more than £1m in just a few months”.

According to AA President Edmond King: “Most scandalous of all is a yellow box junction on Bagleys Lane and New King’s Road in SW6 where drivers cannot see if the exit is clear before entering the dreaded cross-hatched area”.

Comment: Certainly speed cameras, yellow box junctions and all the other restrictions on drivers are there to raise money and there is no evidence that they improve road safety. Road casualties in the last ten years in the UK have only fallen slightly and the reduction can be explained by better vehicle design, improved roads (with accident black spots being treated) and improved medical treatments.

There is no justification for all the expensive enforcement action that is now deployed with people innocent of any criminal intent being pursued.

Telegraph article on speed cameras: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/11/13/great-speed-camera-racket/

The other good article is on the cost of HS2. To quote from it: “HS2 will cost taxpayers more than the benefits it will deliver, the Government has admitted for the first time. Analysis conducted by civil servants found that the rail project will now deliver just 90 pence in economic benefit for every £1 it costs, raising fresh questions about its existence ahead of this week’s Autumn Statement”.

Comment: We have always opposed the construction of HS2 because it was never justified on a cost/benefit analysis and that was before construction costs ballooned to unaffordable levels. It was always a white elephant that benefits mainly wealthy Londoners while ridership figures are hopelessly optimistic. The money would be better spent on other projects and at present the country simply cannot afford over £100 billion on such vanity projects that are also environmentally damaging. It is not too late to cancel this project.

Telegraph article on HS2: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/11/12/hs2-will-cost-taxpayers-economic-benefits-will-deliver-government/  

Roger Lawson

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We Are All Doomed…..Maybe

The media reports on COP27 suggest we are all doomed as it is unlikely that we will keep to the target of 1.5 degrees of global warming. This is an unduly pessimistic outcome. A rise in temperature can actually be beneficial in many parts of the world, if damaging in others.

It is certainly sensible to try and reduce carbon emissions in the long-term but there needs to be a cost/benefit justification and a focus on countries that are the biggest carbon emitters – namely China, India, USA, and Russia. For the UK to aim for net zero makes no economic sense.

Meanwhile the UK Government has committed £11.6 billion to a “climate fund” to support a mix of energy transition, climate financing and forest and nature preservation measures. Some of these may be worthy objects but can the country really afford many billions on such projects when our own population is suffering from shortages of food and heating?

There is also a demand for “reparations” for the damage that has been caused by high carbon emissions that has resulted in floods and droughts. That is debateable to begin with and it ignores the benefits brought to the world by the cheap energy available from oil and gas. That has increased food production and enabled the world population to increase to a level that would otherwise have starved. See the book “How the World Really Works” by Prof. Vaclav Smil for the evidence on this subject. Reparations should certainly therefore be rejected.

I am certainly not supportive of the Just Stop Oil campaigners who are simply irrational and I will personally continue to invest in oil/gas companies but not in coal mining companies while I have been investing in alternative energy funds. Burning coal is a bad option in comparison with generating electricity from wind farms, hydro-electric schemes, solar arrays and other projects.

But we do need to reduce the world’s population if we are to improve the environment which is an objective most of the climate campaigners simply ignore.

How to stop the Just Oil Campaign who disrupted the M25 again today? One thing the Government could do to demoralise and undermine that campaign is simply to publicly announce that the Government will not be changing its mind and will continue to grant new licences for oil/gas production.

They should not just rely on tougher legislation and more active policing to halt such disruptive campaigns which I am sure the vast majority of people oppose. Those who think we can do without oil and gas are simply mistaken because they have not looked into the many uses of those products.

Roger Lawson

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Stopping Just Stop Oil

The Just Stop Oil campaign is causing major disruption to the road network in London. This is in reality a terrorist organisation aiming to achieve their objectives by other than democratic means. But they now face a new measure to frustrate their activities.

Transport for London (TfL) have obtained a court injunction which is wide in scope to stop them – see https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/injunction-order-18

It covers blocking, slowing down, obstructing or otherwise interfering with the flow of traffic onto or along or off the specified roads for the purpose of protesting. The roads specified include several of the Thames bridges and major arterial roads such as Victoria Embankment, Park Lane, Elephant and Castle, Rotherhithe and Blackwall Tunnels.

This is a good step to stop these unnecessary and disruptive demonstrations as breaching a court injunction is a contempt of court to which severe penalties can be invoked. Protestors can be arrested if they breach the injunction and held until they appear in court.

It just needs the police to take vigorous action which for reasons that are unclear they have seemed reluctant to do in the past.  

The despicable activities of Just Stop Oil need to be stopped by all legal means possible.

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A New Money Making Wheeze for London Councils

The London Borough of Wandsworth has obtained permission to enforce 20 Mph speed limits by the use of PCN fines. This will be a trial scheme for 8 months using an Experimental Traffic Order. The money raised will go to the Council so this is just another scam to extract money from motorists like the LTN cameras now being used.

Previously only the police could issue fines for speeding and the money then goes to the Government Treasury. Or the police could offer a speed awareness course which is a way they finance their own operations.

Wandsworth Council say that traffic studies found that one in four vehicles broke the speed limit in Priory Lane and one in five in Wimbledon Park Road. But that surely just demonstrates that a 20 limit is inappropriate for those roads or the roads need re-engineering. There is no evidence given of excessive road safety problems.

These were quotations given in the Evening Standard: “The AA has said that speeding should not be dealt with ‘like a parking ticket’. Speeding enforcement should not become “fishing trips” to secure money for councils,’ a spokesman told the Evening Standard. Drivers will be rightly concerned that speeding fines will be more about filling council coffers than keeping roads safe, Joe Ventre, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, also told the newspaper”.

Residents of Wandsworth should submit objections to the Council but this scheme will undoubtedly spread to other boroughs if it is not opposed. It should never have been approved by central Government.

P.S. There is minimal information on this scheme on the Wandsworth Council web site and no Experimental Traffic Order related to it is present on the London Registry as there should be so we have submitted an FOI Act request to the Council.

Roger Lawson

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LTNs Don’t Work and Lunacy in Oxford

An article in The Times today (24/10/2022) showed LTNs don’t work under the headline “London LTNs: Councils that closed rat runs now have even more cars on the road”. It said “Councils that implemented low-traffic neighbourhoods during the pandemic have seen bigger increases in car use than boroughs that did not, according to government driving statistics”.

The explanation is probably that when roads are closed off the displaced traffic simply takes longer routes and hence does more miles.

Meanwhile in Oxford a group called “Reconnecting Oxford” which represents several campaigns is mounting a legal challenge against the existing LTN and raising money for the fight – see https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-end-road-closures-in-oxford and here: https://reconnectingoxford.weebly.com/

But the Council is fighting back with plans to divide the city into six districts from next August with strict rules on how often motorists can drive outside their neighbourhood. Everybody who owns a car would need a permit and if they drive into an adjacent district more than a few times per year they would get fined.

This must be one of the most extreme anti-car measures implemented anywhere. A YouGov poll suggests that most people support these measures. But like all such polls the questions posed are misleading. Most people, including car drivers, would like less traffic but they are opposed to closing roads, particularly the ones they use.

Roger Lawson

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