IPCC Report – The Implications for Drivers

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have published a report that predicts in stark terms both the historic and predicted changes to the earth’s climate from human activities. This is what they say in the accompanying press release: “Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, released today. Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years”.

However they also say that “strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize”.

Although there are a few people who do not accept the scientific consensus in the IPCC report, Governments are likely to accept the findings and implement policies accordingly. This is already happening with the UK being at the forefront of measures to reduce carbon emissions which are seen as the main cause of global warming. With the UK Government’s “net zero by 2050” policy we are already seeing major impacts and the imposition of enormous costs on many aspects of our life. All of this is reinforced by media coverage of floods and wild fires that are typically blamed on climate change.

Many such reports are anecdotal in nature – they may simply be random events that occur for non-specific reasons, while reporting of such events is now more common in the modern connected world. But the IPCC report does say “It is virtually certain that hot extremes (including heatwaves) have become more frequent and more intense across most land regions since the 1950s, while cold extremes (including cold waves) have become less frequent and less severe, with high confidence that human-induced climate change is the main driver of these changes”. They also say that heavy precipitation events have increased since the 1950s over most land areas and it is likely that human-induced climate change is the cause. It has also contributed to increases in agricultural and ecological droughts.

The IPCC report is effectively a call for action and that will no doubt be reinforced by the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow in November where politicians will be promoting their virtuous visions no doubt. Whether they turn into actions remains to be seen – the past experience suggests they may only turn into token gestures. Economic decisions often thwart the best policies.

What happens if we don’t cut CO2, and methane and other carbon emissions? The IPCC report gives a number of scenarios based on scientific models of differing levels of emissions. Under the high and very high GHG emissions scenarios, global warming of 2°C (relative to 1850– 1900) would be exceeded during the 21st century. Global warming of 2°C would be extremely likely to be exceeded in the intermediate scenario and under the very low and low GHG emissions scenarios, global warming of 2°C is unlikely to be exceeded.

That might seem to be good news, but because of the time lag of the impact of changes in emissions, under the high emissions scenario their best estimate is of a temperature rise of 2.4 °C by 2041-2060 and 4.4 °C by 2081-2100. The latter would be disastrous for many parts of the world with increases in the intensity and frequency of hot extremes (heatwaves and heavy precipitation). The Arctic might become ice free in summer under all the scenarios and sea levels will rise “for centuries to millennia due to continuing deep ocean warming and ice sheet melt”. This could mean a rise of 2 to 3 metres in sea levels if warming is limited to 1.5 °C or 19 to 22 metres with 5 °C of warming!

With so many of the world’s cities on seaboards you can see that flood defences may be totally inadequate to cope with such rises and incapable of being built to resist them. Investments in City of London property would be one casualty. The current Thames flood barrier may be overwhelmed in future years even if GHG emissions stop growing. London is already very vulnerable to road flooding due to a Victoria drainage system while people numbers and buildings have grown apace.

The changes will likely affect the Northern Hemisphere more than the Southern, and there is some good news. For example, the reports says that the growing season has lengthened by two days per decade since the 1950s in the Northern Hemisphere. Farming might extend further north and unproductive land brought into use, but droughts might also remove a lot of marginal land from farming activity. These impacts will be greatly affected by the increase in GRH emissions.

Who can really affect the emissions? Only the big emitters such as the USA, China and Russia can have much impact. The UK produces less than 2% of world emissions.

Does the decarbonisation of transport, particularly in the UK, help at all? In reality not. For example, converting users to electric cars is likely to have minimal impact because the energy requirement and associated CO2 emissions to construct the batteries and make the steel for the car bodies offsets most of the likely benefit. The cost of building a network of charging points and enhancing the electric grid to cope will also be high. Investing in electric car makers or buying electric cars is not going to save the planet.

The big problem which the IPCC report does not cover is that GRH emissions are directly related to the size of the human population and their activities. Particularly what they consume, where they live and how they earn an income.  

Unless there is a concerted effort to halt the growth in population and to restrict urbanisation, I doubt that the growth in GRH emissions will be halted. More population means more farming to feed the people and that is a big contributor to methane emissions which is a significant GRH factor (this is highlighted in the latest IPCC report). Similarly construction of homes and offices is a big contributor. Nobody has yet figured out how to produce cement without generating carbon. Hence the suggestion that we should revert to constructing houses out of wood. Investing in growing trees for timber might help. but that is a 20+ years project and it can take 50 years to grow to harvestable size for timber, or longer in northern latitudes.

In conclusion, it’s worth reading the IPCC report (see link below) and pondering how you think the Government should deal with these issues. Please don’t fall into the trap of encouraging your local council to declare a “climate change emergency” as some have already done. Their initiatives such as closing roads to restrict traffic and persuading everyone to cycle will have no impact whatsoever. Gesture politics is what we do not need.

Even the UK Government alone will have no impact unless they can persuade other major countries to take suitable steps. But will they is the key question?  If they don’t all we can do is to try to mitigate the impacts by weather proofing our properties and the transport network while purchasing air conditioning to cope with the heatwaves.

I am sure some readers of this article will consider that I am being too defeatist and that we can all contribute to reducing the problem by eating less meat, looking at the food miles of what we consume, cutting out long holiday flights, changing your central heating boiler, reducing investments in oil/gas/coal producers and other peripheral affectations. But only Governments can really tackle the problem which we should all encourage them to do.

IPCC Sixth Assessment Report: https://www.ipcc.ch/assessment-report/ar6/

Roger Lawson

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Gear Change , But Downwards

Cover Photo from Gear Change

The Department for Transport (DfT) have recently published a document entitled “Gear Change: One Year On”. It’s a celebration of the radical changes implemented by Government policy in the last year, with more active travel. It also contains a forward by the Prime Minister containing such phrases as: “Hundreds of new schemes have created safe space for people to cycle and walk, supported pubs and restaurants that might otherwise have closed, and allowed us to get the exercise we need. For decades we mourned that children no longer played in the street. Now once again, in some places, they do”.

That’s a very distorted view of what has happened during the pandemic. More people have walked and cycled partly because they have been working from home and hence have more time to do so, but also because they have been avoiding public transport.

The PM also says: “I know many people think that cycling and walking schemes simply increase car traffic on other roads. But there is now increasing evidence that they do not. We sometimes think of traffic as like water: if you block a stream in one place, it will find the next easiest way. Of course some journeys by car are essential, but traffic is not a force of nature. It is a product of people’s choices. If you make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, more people choose to walk and cycle instead of driving, and the traffic falls overall”. The latter comments may be true but there is certainly evidence that closing roads which is a typical element of LTNs does increase traffic on other roads.

The Gear Change document is a panegyric to the wonders of walking and cycling, but it totally ignores the needs of major segments of the population such as the elderly or infirm, or those who rely on vehicles to transport goods, tools or multiple passengers. It also contains some very misleading data on such issues as the take-up of cycling. It also suggests there is widespread public support for LTNs when independent surveys suggest the majority are against them. It depends on who you ask, the questions posed and who runs the survey.

Gear Change promotes a negative, downward move to local transport that will be opposed by many. It’s basically a propaganda piece exhorting us to change our way of life rather than the Government tackling the underlying causes of traffic congestion.

A good example of the kind of opposition to LTNs is the formation of a new group in Dulwich called “Age Speaks”. They say “We are a group of older people within One Dulwich who have banded together to amplify our voice.  As individuals we are being ignored by Southwark Council and our views and needs are being drowned out by the lobby groups the Council is listening to.  Together our voices will be louder and so we are uniting to make sure that older people are heard.

We want to make sure that the Council understands the difficulties the experimental road schemes cause us and how the Council could change things to make sure that we are treated equally.  Age is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and the Council has a duty to protect older people from unfair disadvantage.  This is particularly important now, as the Council will be making a decision on the road schemes in October, and so far has paid very little attention to the needs of older people”. They are particularly critical of an Equality Impact Assessment report from Southwark Council which is a typical example of such recent publications which tend to simply ignore many of the problems faced by the elderly.

Those who write such documents tend to be young and fit and simply have no understanding of how the elderly are impacted by attacks on the use of vehicles.

Gear Change report: https://tinyurl.com/yhc2fxkf

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Good News – Transport Action Network Lose Legal Case

Anti-roads campaign group Transport Action Network have lost a legal challenge to halt the Government’s £27.4bn Road Investment Strategy for the next 5 years. The group argued in a judicial review application that the plans were inconsistent with the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, the net zero target for the UK in 2050 and the Climate Change Act 2008.

Mr Justice Holgate said: “It is well-established that where a decision-maker decides to take a consideration into account it is generally for him to decide how far to go into the matter, or the manner and intensity of any inquiry into it, which judgment may only be challenged on the grounds of irrationality.

Accordingly, the success of this challenge depends upon whether the claimant is able to show that the decision was vitiated by irrationality.”

The judge said the real issue raised by this challenge was whether the Secretary of State failed to take into account implications for the net zero target and carbon budgets leading towards that target. He also said: “I see no reason to question the judgment reached by the DfT that the various measures of carbon emissions from the roads programme were legally insignificant, or de minimis, when related to appropriate comparators for assessing the effect on climate change objectives”.

Let us hope that this is the first of many victories in the courts against those who oppose the use of road vehicles and sensible provision of capacity to meet demand.

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The Cause of London’s Problems

We all know that London has major problems with traffic congestion, air pollution and housing shortages. These are all symptoms of a population that has been growing rapidly and is now way too large for the supporting infrastructure.

One of the causes of the rapid increase in the population is immigration into London from Europe. The Daily Telegraph have published an article that spells out the figures after an analysis of applications under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) that allows EU citizens permanent residence in the country. The figures they report are not just unexpectedly high, they are truly astonishing.

The article (see reference below), reports that 35% of the population of the London Boroughs of Newham and Brent are EUSS applicants. Some 1.8 million people have applied in London, meaning 1 in 5 Londoners are EU citizens. But other UK towns such as Northampton, Boston and Corby now have major proportions of EU migrants as residents.

As the article says, these numbers are startling and are much higher than previous Government estimates of EU migration. This has meant that estimates of requirements for school places and healthcare provision have been wildly wrong.

But the worse impact of this unplanned migration has been on housing and transport provision, particularly in London. This problem has been ignored by politicians in London for far too long. They have ignored the cause of the problems that have been created because they don’t wish to be seen as critical of the social problems that such immigration has caused.

Further EU migration might be deterred in future but we will have to live with the problem that has been caused. Massive investment will be required to cope with this influx.

Telegraph article: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/06/25/eu-citizens-make-third-population-british-towns/

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London Transport Commissioner and Mayor’s Special Pleading

The Evening Standard has published an article by London’s Transport Commissioner, Andy Byford (see Reference 1). In it he welcomes the £1 billion in Government funding to keep Transport for London running for another few months.

But like Sadiq Khan’s press release over the deal (see Reference 2), it complains about the lack of a “long-term settlement”. The Mayor even called it “yet another sticking plaster”. They do not seem to understand that the basic problem is that they are looking for taxpayers (i.e. you and me as represented by the Government) to fund an uneconomic business called Transport for London.

Andy Byford does spell out where some of the money will go which includes this: “And it means we can continue with innovative and creative schemes to decarbonise transport by 2030 and to clean-up London’s air through the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, further electrifying the bus fleet, promoting active travel — including more Santander cycles — and improving road safety”. In other words, they are spending taxpayers’ money to expand the ULEZ (a very ineffective scheme on a cost/benefit analysis) and provide more cycles. Clearly the approach seems to be to spend their way out of trouble in the socialist paradise of London.  

The Mayor says that TfL only needs emergency funding from the Government because the Covid epidemic cut fare income by 90%. That might have been true in the short term and over a few weeks but the details do not seem to have been disclosed. Usage of public transport is fast recovering so this may be only a temporary problem and the financial problems of TfL are a long-standing failure to run a prudent budget that takes into account not just operating costs but capital expenditure and financing costs in addition.

Regrettably the Mayor is acting like the animal that bites the hand that feeds it with his attacks on the Government.

Roger Lawson

Reference 1: Evening Standard article: https://tinyurl.com/2fc4vtut

Reference 2: Mayor of London Press Release: https://tinyurl.com/82uwfr38

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Telegraph Summarises Surveys Against LTNs, and John Redwood’s Blog Article

The Daily Telegraph has published an analysis of the 10 consultations on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) that local councils have reported to date. Three quarters of the people consulted over LTNs and cycle lanes opposed them.

The councils reporting their survey results include Harrow (82% opposed) and Windsor + Maidenhead (89% opposed). One exception was Bromley though with 64% supporting but their schemes are very limited in scope.

The newspaper also reported that one in three councils have axed, modified or reduced their active travel schemes. They also quote Tony Devenish, Conservative London Assembly Members as saying: “My Government is at fault to some extent, because they gave councils the power not to publicly consult for up to 18 months. You can’t just do these things to people. There has been absolute outcry from the Great British public – and that’s why so many councils have had to U-turn”.

But some Councils such as Lewisham have avoided doing public consultations despite promising to do them, or they keep moving the goalposts by changing the nature of the road closures (for example by changing them to “School Streets” or by reissuing Traffic Orders to avoid legal challenges).

Comment: Such public surveys show that the general public (even those who don’t own a car but rely on public transport such as buses), are opposed to the obstruction of our roads. Roads are essential for the movement of people and goods.

In Praise of the Car

John Redwood, M.P., has spelled out the advantages of cars in a good article on his blog (see Reference 2 below). He says: “Acquiring your first vehicle is a major advance in your personal freedom. Yet today government, Councils and better off greens from the security of their homes in major cities lecture the rest of us on the wickedness of the car. The better off Green city dweller can rely more on the tube or mass transit and has the money for taxis when needed. The aim is to get people out of car ownership or to reduce their use of the car, and in the meantime to cow people into keeping quiet about their reliance on this flexible and most popular form of transport”.

He explains at length why cars are more practical and economic for most of the journeys which he takes. A number of good comments have been added. I hope Grant Shapps reads the article.

Reference 1: Telegraph Article: https://tinyurl.com/2d44vbcn

Reference 2: Redwood Article: https://tinyurl.com/cchhcurc

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Comments on Election Results

So we have Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London for another few years. That’s a most disappointing outcome for anyone who understands how his transport policies have damaged the capital. His main contender, Shaun Bailey, did better than expected and did manage to achieve 35% of the votes on the first round versus Khan’s 40%. But on the second round it was 55% for Khan to 44% for Bailey.

The multiplicity of candidates and parties certainly helped Sadiq Khan to get re-elected, although his majority was reduced from the 2016 election. On the first round, all the votes for other than the two leading candidates totalled 625,000 whereas Khan got only 1,014,000 (that’s only 120,000 more than Bailey). The reallocation of votes in the second round were more in favour of Khan and hence the outcome.

The turn-out was low at only 41%.

The Conservatives did well at the national level, with a good win in Hartlepool, but that was not significantly translated into improvements in London. The Government’s handling of the pandemic crisis seems to have been appreciated with Boris Johnson’s handling of the Brexit negotiations being also supported.

But London was different. Why is that? The Conservatives certainly lost popularity in London over the Brexit issue with a large number of EU nationals now in London, who could vote unlike in the Parliamentary elections. Was Shaun Bailey a good candidate and did he put forward attractive policies? I am not sure he had the impact needed to overcome an incumbent Mayor although he was better than Zac Goldsmith who was the last Conservative contender. London has become a very polarised city in socio-economic terms with large numbers of immigrants many of whom rely to some extent on social security handouts or are in low-paid jobs. There has also been a high level of unemployment in recent months because of the epidemic which might have been a major concern and housing continues to be a problem for many (Sadiq Khan’s promotion of rent controls may have been politically appealing if not very practical and with long term negative consequences if implemented).

Political organisation and the use of social media also seemed to be stronger in the Labour Party with Sadiq Khan using his position as Mayor to promote himself in the media.

How did the parties fare in the few local Council bye-elections in London (the main ones are not until next year)? It’s interesting to look at the four bye-elections in Lewisham where concerns about the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) might have had an impact. In Bellingham, Catford South, New Cross and Sydenham the percentage support for the incumbent Labour Party all fell – from 66% in 2018 in Bellingham to 55% this year for example. But that was not enough to change the dominance of Labour – we still have one party in control.

It was not clear that local issues were a major concern or that the electorate were influenced by them. But the inability to do much local campaigning may have had an impact and more concern about other matters such as crime and housing than local transport, traffic congestion and air pollution may have had an impact. The general apathy about local politics also hindered a rational choice – for example turnout of voters in Bellingham was only 36%!

Even the confusing voting arrangements might also have had an impact with three different votes – for the Mayor, for London Assembly Members and for local Councillors not helping. The encouragement of postal voting, particularly by Sadiq Khan, might also have influenced the vote as it is easier to commit vote fraud that way, i.e. submit a vote on behalf of someone else or “coach” people how to complete the forms.  

In conclusion, and as someone who has been voting for the last 50 years, it’s worth saying that the quality of candidates and their policies seems to be dropping. Who would ever have guessed that unimpressive individuals such as Sadiq Khan or Nicola Sturgeon could ever become leaders in London or Scotland? They have both pursued very divisive politics in the apparent desire to stay in power rather than advocate what is good for the people and country as a whole.

Perhaps the problem is that few people wish to get involved in politics nowadays and those with talent avoid it. There is just too much back-biting and personal abuse in politics.

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Mayor Spells Out His Policies in the Times

Sadiq Khan has reiterated his policies on cars and air pollution in an article in the Times. He repeated his call for drivers to give up their cars and said: “Where you can give up using cars, I would encourage that. We can avoid a health crisis that is around air quality and obesity but [it] will also mean that those who do need to use the roads for good reason, be that you are a black-cab driver, electrician, plumber, blue-light services, delivery driver and so forth, are not stuck in traffic and frustrated about productivity when others who have alternatives aren’t using them.”

He repeats his gross exaggeration of the dangers of air pollution to the health of the public as a justification for the expansion of the ULEZ and the proposed charge for entering London from outside. In reality, the expansion of the ULEZ will have minimal impact on air pollution and in just a few years’ time the benefit will have completely disappeared. But there will be massive costs imposed on London’s vehicle owners. See this previous blog post for the data: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2020/04/15/ulez-the-latest-information-including-poor-financial-outcome/

However you look at it, it’s about raising taxes not improving the health of Londoners.

Times Article: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/c71af668-a4ff-11eb-be8f-c06519de93dd?shareToken=88c7f827c16cd944a33cd315efb17e2d

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Mayoral Race Hotting-Up

The campaigns to get elected as the next Mayor of London are getting more active. For those who are considering voting for Sadiq Khan, an article published in the Independent makes it look like an ominous choice for anyone who wants to drive in London.

The article said that he vows to press ahead with controversial plans to get Londoners out of their cars.  The current Mayor said to the Independent that we “need to make sure we don’t go from one health crisis of Covid, to another one – even worse – of air quality”. Of course this makes for good political banter but it is untrue that air pollution is a major health crisis. It is certainly worth improving what air pollution there is in London as it might tackle some health issues but it has been steadily improving for years and years in most areas. Londoners have been living longer which puts a lie to the claim of major health crisis. Air pollution has only been highlighted in some locations recently because of the impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) which has made things worse, while sources of air pollution other than vehicles are ignored.

Sadiq Khan said this in the article: “Our roads should be limited to blue light services, to electricians, to plumbers, to commercial drivers, to taxis, to those that need to use our roads – delivery drivers and so forth – rather than individuals that could be walking, cycling and using public transport”. So it seems those who wish to drive their family to their friends or relatives elsewhere in the country should be banned from using London’s roads. And doing a week’s shopping and carrying it home or visiting doctors should also be banned. Meanwhile the hypocrite that he is drives around in an armoured Range Rover (cost: £300,000 according to the Mail OnLine).

The Independent article is a classic example of how to throw mud at your opponents and to ignore the desires of the residents of London to have the LTN roads re-opened. See article on the link below for the full horror of what Mr Khan believes which includes some very misleading comments about his opponent’s policies.

To read about all the candidates and their policies in a less biased form, read this previous blog post:  https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2021/04/10/london-elections-runners-and-riders/

The Independent Article: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/london-mayor-sadiq-khan-traffic-b1834758.html

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London Elections – Runners and Riders

We have elections for the position of London Mayor in May, plus elections for the London Assembly. In addition there are a few bye-elections in the local boroughs although the main elections for those are not until 2022 so you won’t be able to get rid of those councillors who support the LTNs until then. The main candidates for Mayor and their parties are as follows (in alphabetic order):

BAILEY Shaun, Conservative Party Candidate

BALAYEV Kam, Renew

BERRY Sian, Green Party

BROWN Valerie, The Burning Pink Party

CORBYN Piers, Let London Live

FOX Laurence, The Reclaim Party

GAMMONS Peter, UKIP

HEWISON Richard, Rejoin

HUDSON Vanessa, Animal Welfare Party

KELLEHER Steve, Social Democratic Party

KHAN Sadiq, Labour Party

KURTEN David, Heritage Party

LONDON Farah, Independent

OBUNGE Nims, Independent

PORRITT Luisa, Liberal Democrats

REID Mandu, Vote Women’s Equality Party

ROSE Brian, London Real Party

Sadiq Khan is well ahead of Shaun Bailey in the opinion polls with other candidates not appearing to have much chance of winning at this point in time. The BBC has been saying that only candidates from the main parties have ever won the Mayoral election but they are forgetting that Ken Livingstone won the position after standing as an independent – he only later rejoined the Labour Party. You should also bear in mind that the Mayoral vote is a primary/secondary vote system. You get to chose two candidates and your secondary vote will be counted if your first choice does not get an overall majority. This means you can vote for “less popular” candidates as a first choice without detracting from backing the one you might expect to have a chance of winning.

I will cover the policies of the main candidates as published in their manifestos as regards transport issues only. I have omitted those candidates for which I could not find any details of their manifestos or policies related to transport.

Shaun Bailey – He aims for a transport network fit for a global city by restoring order to Transport for London’s finances so we protect the services Londoners rely on. To achieve this he plans to introduce corporate sponsorship on the tube, and retain the concessionary fares for the under 16s and over 60s. This will also enable him to scrap the proposed rise in Council tax arising from the Mayor’s precept. He will use revenues from the ULEZ to replace old buses with zero-emission buses. Cutting harmful emissions by 17%. And Shaun will provide an interest-free loan to every black cab driver so they can switch to electric cabs (he claims this is equivalent of taking one million diesel cars off London’s roads).

Shaun will set up a London Infrastructure Bank. This will be kept in public hands, attracting money from a mixture of private and public sources. The Bank will be used to fund long-term transport projects. Like repairs to Hammersmith Bridge and Crossrail 2.

He will also reverse the congestion charge hike, scrap the ULEZ extension and the proposed outer London road tax. He also says he will listen to Londoners and suspend every single unwanted LTN.

Kam Balayev – I was unable to find a detail manifesto but he says he will “Revise the congestion charge and freeze fares on TfL” (the latter is of course one reason why Khan’s policies have resulted in TfL’s financial difficulties).

Sian Berry – She would “Reduce traffic and cancel the Silvertown Road Tunnel, investing instead in healthy streets, walking, cycling, better buses and new public transport links”. She would expand the ULEZ scheme to cover the whole of London and also introduce a road pricing plan. She will cancel road projects and introduce a workplace parking levy. Plus there will be more funding for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Clearly a candidate not likely to be popular with our readers!

Valerie Brown – She would scrap the position of Mayor and replace it with “citizen assemblies”, i.e. the undemocratic system of selecting people in a way other than by a simple vote. Not a candidate to be seriously considered I suggest.

Piers Corbyn – He recently sent me this email: “I am a candidate for Mayor of London and as you may have noticed I am totally opposed to ULEZ extension. I also agree with all (or almost all as far as I can see) your other policies. If Mayor – and this is truly possible, we are finding massive support – I would also review the existing ULEZ for which I cannot see justification. An important issue is extra journey lengths of people from outside zones for avoidance. This increases pollution. I’ve read your superb document on ULEZ extension”. He certainly seems to be a candidate worth considering therefore.

Laurence Fox – He plans to “GET LONDON MOVING”. He proposes free tubes and buses for six months (but the cost and how he might pay for that is unclear) and to scrap all Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and unnecessary cycle lanes. He proposes to scrap “lock-downs” and would put up statues to London’s heroes and heroines – not tear them down. Clearly a “populist” candidate, but has he got any experience of managing a large organisation?

Peter Gammons – He says: “I want to get London moving again. There are over 2 million miles of unused tunnels, streets, and chambers beneath London. This abandoned network was secretly built by the Ministry of Defence, Post Office, and BT”.

He also says: “As mayor, I will put a stop to Khan’s war on motorists. I am passionate about supporting London’s taxi drivers and will launch a full review into reopening roads which Khan has closed. Park Lane is one such road that needs urgent review. I’m tired of hypocrites like Sadiq Khan trying to make everybody walk or cycle whilst he swans around London in a £300,000 five litre Range Rover. Whereas Khan is tearing up trees to build new bicycle lanes, I am proposing a new tree-planting initiative. This is a strategy supported by ecologists for combating CO2 emission. I want to convert these disused spaces into walkways, safe cycle lanes, and create the world’s first underground ‘Pod’ transport system. This ambitious project will speed up the city and clear up London’s congestion – an issue that consecutive Conservative and Labour administrations have failed to solve”. Certainly some interesting ideas from this candidate.

Richard Hewison – Campaigning on a platform to rejoin the EU over which the Mayor has no say so surely a vote for him would be wasted.

Vanessa Hudson – She is primarily a single-issue candidate focussed on animal welfare but she does say that she would: “Incentivise public transport use, demand increased funding from Government to ensure affordability, reliability & safety – improving air quality”.

Steve Kelleher – He would introduce free public transport for people in the three years running up to their 25th birthday to help start new businesses and the search for work.  He will introduce a ‘London Citizen Card’ for those who have lived in the capital for five years consecutively – entitling them to benefits such as occasional free tube travel. Other policies are not clear, perhaps because he seems to have changed party recently.

Sadiq Khan – His main points are: “Continuing to invest in public transport to ensure it is safe, affordable and reliable, keeping fares as low as possible, working to put TfL on a sound, sustainable financial footing after the pandemic, and supporting a revolution in walking and cycling”.

His manifesto of over 100 pages is mainly a celebration of his alleged achievements in the role of Mayor and you can expect more of the same no doubt. But this writer has frequently criticised his management of the finances of TfL and I am opposed to the ULEZ scheme, particularly the extension to the North/South Circular which he clearly intends to proceed with. The Mayor’s Transport strategy as previously adopted has resulted in an enormous waste of money and a degradation of the transport network in London (see https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm for more information).

On LTNs, he has this to say: “Last year, TfL and the London boroughs rapidly rolled out measures to make our streets safer for walking, cycling, and social distancing, such as low-traffic neighbourhoods. Most of these schemes are temporary and implemented under emergency Government guidance. I will work with London boroughs to ensure communities and stakeholder groups are properly consulted on these schemes, refining them where necessary, and making them permanent where they are successful”.

He also says “Building on the introduction of the 24/7 bus lanes trial last year, I will undertake a programme of bus priority schemes, improving reliability of the bus network across the city”. So clearly he plans for more bus lanes.

He will push forward with the Healthy Streets agenda with more funding for cycle lanes, cycle parking and the Santander scheme. He will continue to support the innovative use of timed changes to streets across the capital through ‘School Streets’, ‘Summer Streeteries’ and ‘Lunchtime Streets’ — supporting the return of the hospitality sector. Play Streets in residential areas will be important in helping tackle isolation, improving mental health in our communities. He will explore options for future car-free days in central London.

On road safety he will continue with his Vision Zero Plan despite the fact that it has failed to have a significant impact on the loss of life and injuries. He will accelerate the roll out of 20mph speed limits on the TfL road network and improve the safety of the most dangerous junctions, including a programme of new pedestrian crossings at those junctions currently lacking them.

His solution to the problem of TfL’s finances is to introduce an outer London tax for those who drive into London from outside (which they won’t get a vote on of course), to ask the Government for more money and to have Vehicle Excise Duty given to him.

David Kurten – He wants to Get London Moving. Policies include: “Remove pop-up cycle lanes and road blockages. No more LTNs. Stop ULEZ and Congestion Charge expansion”. He also says: “UNBLOCK OUR ROADS.      Remove Khan’s pop-up cycle lanes and traffic barriers. No more cycle superhighways on trunk routes. End road blockages between neighbourhoods​. Unblock the Embankment. Build the Silvertown tunnel” and “END THE WAR ON MOTORISTS. Scrap evening and weekend congestion charging. No ULEZ or congestion charge expansion. No LEZ charge increases. No pay-as-you-go road pricing”.

He would also scrap HS2 but complete Crossrail. He is a founder member of the Heritage Party that believes in “free speech and liberty, traditional family values, national sovereignty, and financial responsibility”.

Farah London – She will introduce 100 days of free travel across London “as an important first step to reinvigorate the city’s economy as the COVID pandemic retreats”. She would “reverse the road restrictions and remove LTNs, plus bring back high street parking. She has been actively campaigning against LTNs in some of the boroughs.

She would abolish time travel restrictions for Freedom Pass Holders and introduce a QR code plate on all bicycles to identify riders and cycle owners for control of traffic offences plus make helmets with a QR code mandatory. In effect she has a number of interesting ideas. It’s worth reading her manifesto as she is one of the more credible independent candidates.

Luisa Porritt – She would introduce road pricing and scrap the Silvertown Tunnel. But I am not sure how much she knows about it as she alleged recently that it will be a motorway which is surely not true. The recent closure of the Blackwall Tunnel due to a car fire which brought gridlock to a wide area of London demonstrated the need for additional Thames crossings.

She says: “Drivers would be charged based on much they drive, how much pollution they create – with fair exemptions and discounts for special needs and work use. This will clean up our air and raise funds for our public transport network in a fairer way than the congestion charge”.

Brian Rose – He would scrap the Congestion Charge and his manifesto says this: “Ensure that Transport For London (TfL) is managed in a fiscally responsible manner by avoiding further government bailouts due to historic poor financial management; Build a transportation system of the future that promises to lead the world in technology, customer experience, and environmental friendly practices to deliver a world-class transportation service to all citizens. This will be accomplished by leveraging the innovation, expertise, and accountability of the private sector with the long- term planning that only the public sector can provide; Freeze fare increases for children, vulnerable groups, the elderly and disabled; Remove the physical friction that prohibits unimpeded movement in the capital by abolishing all restricted access for taxis to major carriageways, removing pedestrian social distancing barricades and rethinking empty cycle lanes by proposing mixed use zones to allow the traffic flow of both cars and cycles”.

Comment: he might have wider appeal if he does not appear in photographs wearing a pin-striped suit.

Conclusion: How to select the right candidate(s) to choose for tactical voting? I would suggest the following approach:

Ignore the race, gender or party of the candidates – just focus on their policies and their past track records and experience. The Mayor of London has a massive budget so preferably the chosen candidate should have both political and business experience. Otherwise simply look at their manifestos and decide whether you can trust them to implement the policies you like.

As regards the London Assembly elections, there seem to be few details available on individual manifestos but presumably they will follow their party’s policies as declared for the Mayoral role. More details may be available nearer the date of the elections (the 6th of May). But bear in mind that regrettably the London Assembly has minimal power to control the Mayor who acts as a dictator.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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