London Air Quality and ULEZ Expansion Could Be Blocked

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:

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1999/29/part/IV/chapter/XV

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1999/29/schedule/23

Explanatory notes for easy read.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1999/29/notes/division/5/4/15

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)

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/38/part/III

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/38/schedule/12

Explanatory notes for easy read.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/38/notes/division/5/3

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.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Wandsworth 20 MPH Limits Unenforceable?

I commented previously on the use of PCNs to enforce 20 mph speed limits on certain roads in the London Borough of Wandsworth – see links below. After exchanging numerous emails with the Council and looking into the relevant Acts of Parliament I have come to the conclusion that they have no proper legal grounds for issuing PCNs in these circumstances.

They claim to have taken two legal reviews which supports their stance. But why two? Did the first one not give the right answers?

After my last question to them they simply said “It would appear we are at an impasse, legal advice is privilege information and I have nothing further to add at this time”, i.e. they seem to be stumped for an answer.

Our advice to anyone who receives a PCN for exceeding a 20-mph speed limit in Wandsworth is to challenge it and take it to appeal to London Tribunals.

We are considering a wider legal challenge and if anyone would like to assist with that please contact me (tel: 020-8295-0378 during office hours).

The Council claims to be relying on the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003. (LLA &TfL Act 2003) and the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. (RTR Act 84).  Specifically Section 4(5)(a) of the LLA&TfL Act 2003 that allows for Penalty Charge Notices to be issued for contravening a Prescribed Order. I pointed out that a prescribed order can only apply where there is a contravention of a traffic sign listed in Schedule 3 of the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003. There is no 20 mph sign limit listed in Schedule 3. And Section 4(6)(a) says: “No penalty charge shall be payable under subsection (5)(a) above where—(a) the person acting in contravention of the prescribed order also fails to comply with an indication given by a scheduled section 36 traffic sign; or….”. They also claimed support of Section 84 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 which specifically refers to “Speed limits on roads other than restricted roads” so only applies to non-restricted roads.  The roads under discussion are almost certainly “restricted roads”.

The legislation in this area is exceedingly complex and difficult to understand but I believe they have simply misinterpreted it in their enthusiasm to raise money from drivers who might not challenge PCNs.

20 Mph speed limits may be enforceable by the police but Councils have no authority to issue PCNs for breaches of 20 mph limits in our view.

How to Object: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/11/19/wandsworth-20-limit-evasion-and-how-to-object/

Money Making Wheeze: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/10/27/a-new-money-making-wheeze-for-london-councils/

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Rishi Sunak Criticises ULEZ Expansion and Scrappage Scheme Announced

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?”.

Scrappage Scheme

Meanwhile TfL have announced some details of a scrappage scheme to help some owners of non-ULEZ compliant vehicles. See https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/scrappage-schemes

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.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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London Mayor’s Transport Strategy Failing

Transport for London (TfL) have published their latest report on Travel in London. It shows that Sadiq Khan’s Transport Strategy is a complete failure.

The Mayor has a target of 80% of journeys to be via active travel modes (which even includes bus journeys). But in fact the number or trips by walking and cycling was only 31% in Q3 2022. That is only slightly higher than the 27% in the pre-pandemic 2019 year.

People are still avoiding public transport because covid is still prevalent and more people have changed travel patterns to work partly from home or have flexible working hours which probably accounts for the small increase in walking/cycling. But it is clear that the overall use of active travel modes has not changed much in the last two years and any changes have been influenced more by the covid epidemic and higher taxes on private cars and higher public transport fares.

You can see the actual London mode share trends in the chart above.

The targets for active travel physical activity are not being met. The report says “results suggest that the proportion of Londoners achieving the target decreased during the pandemic, with quarterly estimates ranging from 33 to 37 per cent”.

These numbers did not stop some media reports claiming that cycling had increased by 40%. This is a complete lie based on using selective data. Cycling still only accounts for about 3% of all trips and is heavily influenced by weather conditions. The UK went through a very dry period this year but the last two months have been the exact opposite and is not in the above data.

Public transport use remains low and significantly below the pre-pandemic level which is a major problem for TfL’s finances as they rely on fare income particularly from buses. The Mayor was going to reduce the bus network to save money but has now taken a U-Turn on that idea which he will surely live to regret.

TfL are forecasting a greater shift to on-line shopping with people making fewer and more local shopping trips. They also foresee an increase in LGV trips associated with home deliveries except in central London and a drop in HGV trips due to reduced construction, general haulage and retail activity. The trend to have few private car trips in London will continue, replaced by the use of taxis, PHVs and internet shopping delivery vehicles.

Vision Zero

The TfL report also gives some data on road casualties. Here again the Mayor’s “Vision Zero” policy is not working. The figures are distorted by the reductions in vehicle traffic during the pandemic but the report says: “2021 was an unusual year with large changes in the composition of people regrettably killed or seriously injured. This was largely due to new travel patterns in the wake of the pandemic. Motorcycling and pedestrian fatalities were significantly lower by historic standards but cycling fatalities and serious injuries increased”.

The Mayor’s promotion of cycling has actually resulted in relatively small increases in cycling but large increases in KSIs involving cyclists. Cycling is intrinsically more dangerous than other transport modes but cyclists won’t listen. The Mayor is unlikely to reach the targets for KSIs in 2022.

The increase in cycling speeds promoted by cycling fanatics and supported by cycle superhighways together with increases in electric bikes and e-scooters are proving to be negative influences.

Summary

A very disappointing report showing the negative trends on mobility in London. Will the Mayor change his stance? We doubt it because his Transport Strategy was always based on dogma rather than rational analysis.

TfL report here: https://board.tfl.gov.uk/documents/s19181/Travel%20in%20London%2015%20Overview.pdf

Our campaign against the Mayor’s Transport Strategy: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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More Comments on ULEZ Expansion

Following Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand the ULEZ to the whole of London I have had the time to read the whole report (all 300 pages of it) on which he based his decision – see link below. These are my comments on it:

Our objections were mentioned but were rejected with a trivial comment, along with all the other objections from other people and organisations.

The Mayor justifies his decision because of his commitment to have 80% of all trips in London to be made by foot, by cycle or using public transport by 2041. He also wants to go further to reduce air pollution, tackle the climate emergency and reduce traffic congestion. Comment: As already pointed out, the expanded ULEZ will have minimal impact on air pollution and will certainly have no impact on the climate or reduce traffic congestion (only a minority of vehicles are affected and their owners will just switch to newer models).

The Mayor alleges that there are 4,000 premature deaths in outer London caused by air pollution including 204 in Bromley, 201 in Barnet, 196 in Croydon, etc. These are simply estimates and bear no relation to reality. It’s ignoring the fact that outer London boroughs have less air pollution and low rates of most diseases but they do have older populations as people move out of central London to the suburbs as they grow their families or retire.  

The consultation results show overwhelming opposition to the ULEZ Expansion: 68% of respondents (when organised responses are excluded), 70% of outer London, 80% of people who work in outer London, 80% of outer London business owners.

There were a number of “organised” responses to the consultation. Apart from ones we encouraged there were ones directly promoted by Fair Fuel UK, Living Streets, London Cycling Campaign, London Friends of the Earth Network and Wearepossible.org. The last one generated 4,312 emails, more than any other source, and who are they you may ask? Wearepossible.org are a part of the 10:10 Foundation, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, with very substantial financial support from a hedge fund. Their objective is to achieve a zero-carbon world and their chairperson is an academic focussed on climate change. So much for the complaint of one MP that the consultation was being biased by pro motoring organisations – the exact opposite is the truth.

Many respondents seemed to think it was a consultation on responding to climate change with 37% of respondents saying it was Very Important to take steps to tackle climate change when the ULEZ proposal cannot have any impact on climate change as it will not affect CO2 emissions.

It is noticeable that a large proportion of the responses came from central London addresses, i.e. from people who will not be affected by the ULEZ expansion in any way. In summary there was a concerted effort by environmental activists to distort the consultation.

An article in the Daily Express suggests there will be a massive drop in used car values based on a report by Carwow. There are about 200,000 non-compliant cars that regularly drive into the affected area it notes and these will likely be sold in the next eighteen months so that drivers avoid paying over £2,000 per year to Sadiq Khan. There is still a market for such vehicles in other parts of the country but prices may well be substantially affected.

What’s our advice to those who own non-compliant cars? Don’t panic. Running an existing vehicle until next August will reduce the impact and there may be an immediate rush by some sellers that will temporarily depress prices further which already reflect the anticipated decision. For those who only use a vehicle occasionally it might be more cost effective  to retain it rather than buy a new vehicle.

There is always a chance that the implementation will be delayed or cancelled. There is a move by some outer London Councils to try and thwart the Mayor’s plans. The Secretary of State for Transport could also intervene if he had a mind to do so.

There is also a Parliamentary petition requesting the position of Mayor of London be removed – see https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/617592 . I suggest you sign it!

Roger Lawson

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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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 accident statistics.

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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