We all know Sadiq Khan is a consistent liar but a draft report from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) confirms exactly that. A total of 578 people contacted the ASA to “challenge” TfL (Transport for London) to prove its claims about the impact of the ULEZ, which were broadcast and published between January and June this year. The advertising watchdog’s recommendations state that two complaints about two radio adverts and one in a newspaper should be upheld.
There is no doubt that the information published by TfL and Sadiq Khan prior to the public consultation on expansion of the ULEZ was grossly misleading. The health benefit from expansion of the ULEZ is negligible but the financial cost will be enormous. Costs of £2.7 billion over the last 5 years on TfL charges on motorists have already been incurred which will rise even higher in the next couple of years – see https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/11/18/london-drivers-pay-billions-charges-ulez-sadiq-khan/
It’s time we had a new London Mayor who is more financially competent and does not rely on motorists to bail TfL out from reckless mismanagement of public transport finances.
Today (the 29th August 2023), the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has been extended to the whole of Greater London. This is unjustified on the scientific evidence of the miniscule benefit to air pollution and improved population health but it will cost many Londoners (and those who live in surrounding counties) dearly.
In practice it’s just another tax to support Sadiq Khan’s mismanagement of TfL’s budgets.
How did Sadiq Khan manage to obtain such dictatorial powers that he can impose such wide-ranging taxes without the consent of the people? He did so because central Government were asleep, or distracted by other political issues such as Brexit and a national pandemic.
But the tide is turning as people see how incompetent Khan has been at managing not just London’s transport network but in other areas also such as crime and housing. The only thing Khan has been good at is blaming central Government for his own failings and bribing the electorate with their own money – free transport and free school meals for example paid for out of taxes.
It could of course have been very different if the population had seen Sadiq Khan for what he is – a runt whose politics are all about building his ego and his stature by a relentless power grab.
But the tide is turning. Direct action to remove the ULEZ cameras or damage them is escalating while a serious challenge to Khan’s re-election next May is looming. Just as Ken Livingstone became so hated by his extreme policies that the call was to vote for “anyone but Ken” it will soon become “anyone but Khan”.
On a personal note I concluded that Sadiq Khan was not going to back down on the ULEZ expansion a few months back. He is clearly incapable of compromise and needs the money raised to pay for existing commitments. So I decided to change my ten-year old diesel Jaguar XF for a two year old petrol Jaguar XE. It’s very economical and is of course ULEZ compliant. Hopefully it will last me for many more years of low mileage motoring.
I am of course in the fortunate position of being able to afford to change my car every few years but many people are not. The scrappage scheme is simply a sop that will not significantly help them. Let us hope they remember that next May.
The economics of switching to an electric vehicle did not make sense just yet but it might do in a few years’ time. I am open-minded on the pros and cons of electric vehicles but the high capital cost and low resale values do not make them attractive as yet.
In a previous blog post I wrote about how Shazad Sheikh had measured air quality in London. He purchased an ELITech Temtop Air Monitoring device and used it on the streets of central London and in underground and train stations. The device measures particulates (PM 2.5 and PM10) which are known to be the most hazardous to health and the results were most interesting – see his article here: https://browncarguy.com/2023/07/03/ulez-air-quality-test-pt-1-2/
I have now purchased such a device (see photo above) and tested it out in and near my home in Chislehurst (in the London Borough of Bromley. The results were most interesting and not what one might expect. In my home office I got readings of 4.9 for PM2.5 (small particulates) and 5.7 in our living room. Outside in our back garden the reading was 1.4. Overall AQI was 18, 24 and 5 respectively.
On Chislehurst High Street, normally a congested road, and near the bus stop next to the Hornbrook House Car Park the PM2.5 reading was 1.4.
The AQI results were all under 30 which suggests there is no significant health hazard in the open air of Chislehurst’s roads.
It’s possible that the high indoor readings are from house dust, cooking and laser printer emissions – they were much less when I tested them again later. But the national standards are for PM2.5 particulates of less than 20 µg/m3 so there is no concern whatsoever about living in the suburbs of Bromley and the need to expand the ULEZ to cover the Londoin suburbs is simply not justified.
Gareth Bacon, MP for Orpington in South East London made several good points. He said his constituents quite rightly saw the ULEZ as a “tax-grabbing scheme to fill the holes in Transport for London’s finances”. He pointed out that the public consultation was manipulated by the Mayor and hundreds of cameras were ordered even before the consultation was launched.
It’s well worth reading what was said in the debate which highlighted the costs being imposed on many people who live in outer London when the impact on air pollution will be negligible.
Sadiq Khan has published a book entitled Breathe. It is partly biographical and partly a polemic about air pollution and climate change.
He explains how he became interested in air pollution in London after training for the London marathon and developing “late-onset” asthma. He blames it solely on London’s poor air quality in the streets on which he trained.
He also covers the case of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah but misreports what the coroner said about the cause of her death. Air pollution was probably a contributory factor as she lived near the South Circular which is very heavily polluted but certainly not the sole cause.
He also makes inaccurate comments about the Blackwall Tunnel suggesting that the bends in the tunnel were designed so that horses did not bolt for the exit when they saw the daylight. I have seen this allegation about the Rotherhithe Tunnel which also has sharp bends but I doubt it is true. Wikipedia says the Blackwall tunnel has bends in order that the tunnel could align with Northumberland Wharf to the north and Ordnance Wharf to the south, and avoid a sewer underneath Bedford Street.
The book attempts to link air pollution to action on climate change but does not provide any evidence to support that. Indeed the book is short on supporting data and is hardly a scientific exposition of the issues.
Neither does Sadiq Khan look at the economic cost of his policies and why a lot of the justification was the need to bail out TfL by raising taxes via such schemes as the ULEZ. He claims that the ULEZ had a major impact on the air pollution in London while ignoring the impact of central Government policies, the improvements to vehicles and the impact of the pandemic on reducing traffic.
But he does explain how scaring the population by emphasising the negative health impacts of air pollution has helped him to win election.
On the issue of LTNs, he alleges that the vocal public opposition has been stimulated by hostile media while arguing the bulk of residents support them. How wrong he is!
He covers his recent alleged heart attack in Glasgow and it’s difficult not to conclude from the length he spends on his medical problems that he is a hypochondriac.
The book will only be of interest to those who want an explanation of how Sadiq Khan got elected as Mayor of London by scaremongering about air pollution and climate change. But he does point out the weaknesses and mistakes of his opponents. Hopefully new candidates can learn from this book.
It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post. Too busy sorting out some technical problems and keeping up with medical issues – I just booked my seventh Covid vaccination which does not scare me. But I would like to comment on some topical issues.
Should Dominic Raab have been fired, or encouraged to resign, which is the same thing in reality? There is one simple question to answer which is “would you like to work for him as a boss?”. My answer would be an undoubted “no”.
Leaders who wish to get things done need to be popular to some extent at least if they wish to have people work hard and follow the policies laid down. You certainly can’t get people to do what you want by bullying them.
Raab was apparently warned several times about his behaviour so the final outcome was hardly unexpected. In any organisation, and Government is no different, you have to have consensus and leadership by example. If Raab could not get Civil Service staff to do what he wanted then he needed to change his approach.
My first technical problem was that BT and Microsoft decided to stop supporting POP email clients, for alleged security reasons after 20 years. That meant potentially losing access to thousands of older emails I have received over the last 15 years. No workarounds provided unless I paid them money. I am very unhappy about being treated in this way and Outlook on the web is not nearly as good as Outlook 2016 as a local client.
My latest technical problem was configuring and learning how to use a new Samsung smartwatch (a Galaxy 4). This is replacing an older Huawei smartwatch which did basic functions very well but was not really compatible with the Apple i-Phone I currently use. I don’t like Apple watches – too expensive and I prefer a more traditional design. The Galaxy watch is also incompatible but you have to read the very small print on their web site to discover that. You even need a Samsung phone to set it up which is ridiculous. The user interface is horribly complex and it’s taken me hours to learn all the functions and configure it. Watches should be installable in a few minutes, not hours, and all common phones should be supported.
That’s the rant over for today.
I was alerted by the new emergency phone alarm just now. I presume that’s in case Russia launches World War 3, and we get 3 minutes warning of a nuclear attack. Reminds me of the 1960s but most people decided then that there was not much to do in 3 minutes except hide under a table.
Meanwhile Sadiq Khan is pushing ahead with the ULEZ expansion despite widespread public opposition. Financially it makes no sense and it will make no difference to air quality in the outer London boroughs. There will be a legal challenge in the High Court in July but I am not very hopeful of a successful outcome. But it’s worth supporting anyway.
The only way you can remove idiots like Sadiq Kahn is at the ballot box.
Sadiq Khan issued a tweet saying that “London has been ranked the 18th most polluted city in the world based on air quality, light pollution and traffic congestion”. But this is a lie and the tweet has subsequently been deleted.
London is nowhere near 18th most polluted city in the world, on any of these measures. IQair ranks London as the 3739th in the world on air pollution. It is ranked 55th out of just 404 cities on congestion, and the UN reports mean noise pollution as joint 28th out of the 61 cities measured. See https://order-order.com/2022/10/06/fact-check-khans-polluting-claims/ for more information.
It is regrettable that Sadiq Khan and his PR team find it necessary to scare the public in this way in support of his financially driven policies to extract more taxes from Londoners. There is simply no evidence that poor air quality is a major health problem in London.
We have said before that the Government could halt the planned expansion of the ULEZ. Thanks to one of our contacts for the following explanation of the legal position:
“The root cause of the problem is the Greater London Authority Act 1999, which was created during Tony Blair’s New Labour administration, along with the devolved Scottish and Welsh administrations.
Section 295 and schedule 23 of the GLA Act 1999 enables TFL, the Mayor and London Borough Councils to enforce their road user charging schemes such as congestion charge, ULEZ etc. See:
If you read the GLA Act 1999 carefully, the Secretary of State does have powers to veto/block road user charging schemes on the grounds of “the incompatibility is detrimental to the interests of persons resident in England outside Greater London.”
Part III, Chapter 1 and schedule 12 of the Transport Act 2000 enables local authorities outside of London (including Metro Mayors) to enforce their road user charging schemes such as Clean Air Zone (CAZ), Congestion Charge (for Cambridge) and traffic filter scheme (for Oxford)
I have written to Mark Harper, Secretary of State for Transport, pointing out he does have the power to block the ULEZ expansion and should do so. Also I have suggested that the Government should repeal the relevant clauses from the legislations to take road user charging powers away from the Mayors and local authorities, and even make road user charging powers illegal!
With a Conservative majority in the Commons they could also repeal the GLA Act 1999 which will then abolish the Mayor of London and transfer TFL back to Government control.
The latest Air Quality Annual Status Report for the London Borough of Bromley which has just been published shows there is no justification for the expansion of the ULEZ scheme to outer London boroughs like Bromley.
To quote from a Council report: “There were no monitored exceedances of the annual or daily mean for Particulate Matter (PM10) in 2021. The annual average was 15.4μgm-3 . This is well below the national limit of 40μgm-3 .
The annual mean for Particulate Matter (PM2.5) concentration in 2021 was 9.7μgm-3 . This was also well below the national limit of 20μgm-3 .
Historically, the trend in Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) concentration at the Harwood Avenue permanent continuous monitoring station, shows a decreasing trend. There was a slight increase from 2020 to 2021. This was due to life returning to normal following the changes to traffic levels during the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns. The trends in NO2 concentrations for diffusion tube monitoring sites (for those with more than one year of data) for the 2015 – 2021 period also show evidence of a decreasing trend and all sites were below the national limit”.
In summary the measured pollution levels are well below national standards even on busy roads and the trend is downwards. There are unlikely to be any negative health impacts from the current levels of air pollution.
Yesterday (28/6/2022) the Office of National Statistics released the first results from the 2021 Census in the UK. The population of England and Wales rose to 59.6 million which is an increase of 6.3% since the last census 10 years ago.
This substantial change which directly affects our quality of life was barely covered in the national media. More people mean more stress on housing provision, more vehicles on our roads and a bigger demand for health services (particularly as the population has aged – there are more older people and they are living longer). Some of the age increase can be blamed on baby boomers growing old.
The population increase has been concentrated in London and the South-East but older people have tended to move out of London being replaced by young immigrants (not just from overseas but from within the UK). The census data might also have been distorted as people tended to move out of central London boroughs to the country during the pandemic.
England now has the highest population density of all major European countries.
One major impact of more population is degradation of the environment – more air pollution and more waste. Here’s a good quote from Sir David Attenborough that is very relevant: “All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people, and harder – and ultimately impossible – to solve with ever more people”.
What is the Government doing to try and tackle this problem? In essence very little apart from rather feebly trying to restrict immigration. The birth rate is forecast to fall, but there is as yet no sign of any reduction in the population growth. A growing population might mean a healthy economy but the shortage of housing, particularly in the South-East, has been a major factor in political unrest while the elderly are facing problems in getting medical treatment as the NHS is over-stretched to cope.
The Government is being distracted by many other issues at present in a reactive fashion. Such problems as food and energy security would not be a problem if the UK population was reduced.
Likewise the growth of population, particularly in London and the South-East, has put great stress on the road network. Population growth has zoomed ahead of road capacity which has barely changed in the last few years. This is a recipe for more traffic congestion.
The Government surely needs to be less reactive to short-term problems and look at the longer-term issue of excessive population growth.