Presumably this is to try and pacify those who are criticising the ULEZ expansion to outer London. But the amount of money involved (£50 million) is nowhere near enough to enable those who qualify to buy a replacement new vehicle.
It’s also offered on a “first come, first served basis” and the pot will quickly run dry. In addition it only applies to those who live in London so the many tens of thousands of people who live in the home counties but commute into outer London will not qualify. This is what Mayoral candidate Susan Hall had this to say: “”This is too little, too late from Sadiq Khan, who is facing mounting pressure from Londoners and his own party. Thousands of families, small businesses and charities face financial ruin because of Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion, which will do next to nothing to improve air quality”. That’s spot on.
The only solution to this madness is to either replace the Mayor at the ballot box in May or for Government to remove his powers to act like a dictator, which he has been misusing. Repeat after me: “There is no air quality health crisis”. It’s just scaremongering by the Mayor to raise taxes to fix his financial mismanagement of TfL”.
On a personal note, I did not qualify for the original scrappage scheme even though I am disabled, hold a blue badge and live in London. That has not changed. Scrappage schemes are always severely limited and only enable you to buy a second-hand poor-quality vehicle.
A judge in the High Court has rejected a challenge to the expansion of the ULEZ to all of London by Sadiq Khan on the 29August, which will cost many Londoners £12.50 per day (and more in future no doubt as such taxes are always rapidly raised after implementation).
The judge’s judgement on the Hillingdon claim representing 5 councils is available here: https://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2023/1972.html . As usual with judicial reviews the decision was made based on his views on the legal merits of the claim, not on any moral grounds. But reading the judgement carefully leaves some doubts as to whether it is sound or not. I will not go into details why I say this because that is best left to lawyers but I certainly think a challenge to the Appeal Court would be worthwhile.
It is certainly very worthwhile to continue the fight to oppose this unjust tax which is not justified by evidence on air pollution in London. There are three ways it can be challenged now: 1) by appealing the legal decision; 2) by persuading the Government to change the law; 3) by voting Khan out of office next May. In the last case you need to vote for Howard Cox (Reform Party) or Susan Hall (Conservative Party).
Councillor Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council, said: “Today’s decision cannot be disguised as anything other than bitter disappointment for motorists in general, traders who will now have to consider ceasing business and laying off staff, those who will now have to change jobs and, most desperately of all, people who will no longer be able to support vital care networks for vulnerable people across the whole of outer London in particular. “To all of them as well as the legion of families who will now have to trade in perfectly good cars at significant cost they can’t really afford, for a newer vehicle they don’t want or need, I can only say sorry. We’ve tried our very hardest to protect you but ultimately, today’s judgement does mean that the Mayor has taken another step closer to getting his way.”
He added: “However, do please be assured that this is not the end of the matter and this battle will continue. To draw a positive from this setback, we have been extremely successful in bringing the Mayor’s intentions both around ULEZ, as well as Road Price Charging which is set to follow, to every front page and living room across the country in recent weeks, and what has become increasingly clear, is that the more that people see and learn of it, the less they like it. “We will take that energy and build on it over coming weeks and it may well be that we will now need to turn to Parliament for a solution immediately upon their return from their Summer Recess at the beginning of September.”
It is very difficult to see how the way the Mayor misled people can be adjudged to be a fair public consultation. But Sadiq Khan is clearly putting a lot of effort into persuading people that the expansion is necessary on public health grounds when it is not.
I mentioned in a previous blog post that I was considering the purchase of a new car. Easier said than done.
I talked to the local Jaguar dealer but they have few second-hand cars in stock and if you want a new XF they are still making them but there is a 6 month to a year delivery time (and no guarantee on the time).
Arranging a demonstration of other vehicles seems difficult also. Searching Auto Trader for a fairly new low mileage Jaguar does not help either, particularly if you want one that is not a black colour and not located at the other end of the country.
I might have to look at a BMW instead.
This apparently is a problem for many makes partly due to semi-conductor shortages and a shortage of second-hand vehicles.
You can see why Jaguar are in some difficulty. Product range now focussed on very expensive electric SUVs and not reasonably priced petrol or hybrid vehicles. They seem unable to produce vehicles that people want to buy!
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”.
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!
At Prime Minister’s Question Time Rishi Sunak said Sadiq Khan should “listen to the public” and scrap the planned expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to all of London. He also said that it is the “overwhelming” view of London residents that the levy should not be expanded.
My response on twitter was “Rishi Sunak and the Government have the power to stop the ULEZ expansion so why don’t they do so?”.
But it’s unlikely to help many people. Only those car owners receiving social security benefits or are registered disabled will qualify and the maximum grant is £2,000. You can’t buy a new car, or even a decent second-hand one for that money!
It may help sole traders, small businesses and charities with old diesel vans and buses where the allowance is higher.
There is also a mention of some vehicles which might qualify for a “retrofit” that will make them compliant but it seems unlikely to be of use to most owners of older diesel cars. However you can register an interest in a retrofit solution for your vehicle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The following article has been written by Michael De Haan, a local resident:
Do people enjoy being deceived by Enfield Council ? It turns out that the traffic surveys done by Enfield for their post LTN data applied a filter so that it did not count any vehicles moving at less than 10km per hour. The individual road reports show not a single vehicle on any road doing less than this speed. Given the congestion introduced by the LTNs this is highly unlikely. This means that the figure quoted for the percentage increase in traffic on the boundary roads should be close to double that reported in the Fox Lane Final Report.
These falsely low figures were also the ones used to generate the pollution models. I have been in contact with the manufacturers of the equipment used (MetroCount) and they say the equipment, which relies on two rubber tubes strung across the road, is recommended to only be used in FREE FLOWING traffic. When you introduce congestion, and vehicles stop with their wheels between or bridging the tubes, or they do not travel over the tubes fast enough, the vehicles are simply not counted. Preparing a report with a 10km filter from this raw data increases the number of vehicles not counted. In severe congestion, where cars only shuffle forwards a couple of car lengths at a time you will not count 25% of the cars (that’s one in every four). Even in milder congestion where cars move forwards 10 car lengths at a time you will miss 5% of vehicles (one in every 20). On 6th July 2021 Transport Survey Systems, the company employed by Enfield Council, did what are known as “Turning Surveys” at four junctions on four of the Fox Lane LTN boundary roads. These surveys video the traffic for 12hrs and the number of vehicles manually counted. This was during a week when the same company were also surveying the same roads with the Automatic Traffic Count (ATC) tubes. By comparing the data you can show the ATC tubes didn’t count nearly 3000 vehicles that were manually counted over the 12hr period. This represents 5.4% of the total traffic over this 12hr period that was simply NOT COUNTED. As there was an hourly breakdown of the figures you can show the number of missed vehicles increases in direct proportion to the level of congestion.
Nearly all surveying of LTNs over London use this method. If there is little or no congestion at the count points, pre LTN, the number of vehicles counted will be fairly accurate. If the LTN creates congestion at the count points then the post LTN survey will simply not count a proportion of the vehicles. Maybe this is what is meant by traffic evaporation?
Comment: It is well known that measuring traffic congestion based on traffic counts is a defective method. The only safe way to measure traffic congestion is to time a trip when there is no significant delays (e.g. in the middle of the night) and compare it to the travel time in busier periods. To allow for odd incidents or delays, the average of several trips needs to be taken. This was the method used by TfL when initially reporting on the effect of the Congestion Charge.
That showed that there was no benefit in the Congestion Charge in terms of reduced congestion and TfL subsequently ceased publishing similar reports for obvious reasons. See this web page for more analysis of the Congestion Charge and its impact: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/congestion
The Freedom for Drivers Foundation has been operating in one form or another for many years. During that period the attacks on the use of private cars have steadily increased. The Covid pandemic has been used to accelerate the trend to close roads, reduce road space and introduce more restrictions on your freedom of movement. This has to be opposed!
That’s not just the case in London which was the initial focus of our activities but across the country more recently.
We now need to improve our communications to supporters and the wider public. A number of steps are proposed:
1. We are improving our social media presence. We already have an active blog which gives you the latest news which might affect you as a driver and which is here: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/ . You can now register to “follow” that blog and receive an email of new updates by entering your email address in the box at the foot of any of the recent blog posts.
2. We also have an active Twitter account (see @Drivers_London ) where news and comments are posted.
3. If you don’t wish to see news almost every day by using the above, then we have a condensed newsletter which is issued every couple of months. It is sent out by email as a pdf document for easy reading. You can register to receive that on this web page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/register.htm
4. We also have a Facebook page which is focused on the London Mayor’s Transport Strategy – see https://www.facebook.com/AgainstMTS . It is proposed to expand our coverage to other regions by setting up other Facebook pages.
5. The Freedom for Drivers Foundation web site (see https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/index.htm) was originally developed many years ago by me and more recently has been maintained using the WebPlus software. That software is no longer supported by the supplier and the web site is not easy to use on a mobile device. The site needs redeveloping in a new software platform such as Wix.
All of the above, particularly the redevelopment of the web site, is beyond my personal capabilities as I simply do not have the time to do it. In essence we need some funding to do that and also to expand our marketing so as to spread awareness of our organisation.
In summary this is a call for more funding to enable this organisation to improve on what we have been doing and expand our contact base. We already have several thousand email contacts, mainly in the London area. But we need to reach tens of thousands across the whole country to have an effective voice to counter those who oppose the use of private cars.
A few months ago Transport for London (TfL) launched a new “consultation hub” – see https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/ . I advised our blog and newsletter readers to register on the site so they get notified of new consultations. But I registered and have never received any notifications.
The photograph above taken from the web site shows TfL’s vision of the future – queues of traffic stuck behind cyclists!
The web site also just contains a list of TfL Projects with some description of them and people can add their comments on each. The result of course is that there are no doubt a wide variety of comments some of whom support the proposals and some of whom do not. Such arrangements are open to exploitation by pressure groups.
This is one comment I added on the topic of lowering speed limits: “This form of ‘engagement’ is a good way to get a biased set of responses from ill-informed sections of the public which TfL can then use to justify more attacks on motorists by picking out selective comments. It’s not even a proper survey with random responses from anonymous contributors. This is a disgraceful way of claiming that this can be a fair way of consulting the public. It’s another example of TfL trying to justify their policies by manipulation of consultations”.