THE PUBLIC IS WAKING UP … ULEZ A STEPPING STONE TO ROAD PRICING
On 15 April 2023, Trafalgar Square saw a well-attended demonstration with speeches from different public figures and campaign groups. It was good-humoured but very firm show of the strength of feeling against the Mayor’s plans, which have been massively under-publicised.
HEADING FOR A SHOWDOWN …THE LEGAL SITUATION IN SHORT
On 12 April 2023, a court session heard the case for a Judicial Review (JR) on expanding ULEZ. There are two applications – a private application (‘Chris White’…), best covered by its own appeal crowdfunding website.
There is also the higher profile application from 4 London boroughs (Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon) and Surrey County Council. There will be some common arguments.
● We can expect a hearing in the week beginning 3 July. Recent JR cases have taken 4 to 9 weeks to deliver a judgment, but with ULEZ due to expand on 29 August, judgment might be expected sooner.
● Transport for London (TfL) have been crowing short term the court session did not allow 3 of the 5 grounds for challenge to proceed, and of the other two, the charge on scrappage was said to be borderline.
● The main charge of using improper legal means could in theory see the Mayor’s Order quashed – but if this is the only formality, what is to stop the Mayor issuing a fresh Order?
● Various people are surprised that the judge did not rule that there were irregularities with last year’s consultation. The evidence has been seen as particularly strong and on other cases, a decision following a consultation has been ruled illegal. (There may in time be more information on the judge’s reasoning on the BAILII website. The Councils’ case reference is CO/642/2023).
● Eyebrows have been raised on the choice of session judge. According to Wikipedia, Sir Ross Cranston KC is a professor of Law at London School of Economics and a retired High Court judge. He is also a former Labour Party MP and minister (like Mayor Khan). The BBC notes “He was one of three ministers to refuse the use of an official car.”
● Some find it strange that a former Labour MP and minister should be chosen to adjudicate in a dispute between a Labour Mayor and 5 Conservative councils? However, there is a possibility of appealing against the refusal of grounds and an appeal judge may not agree with Cranston. Watch this space…
● The decision to proceed with the hearing excited the PM Rishi Sunak, who twice turned down MPs’ requests to stop ULEZ, and Tory Chairman Greg Hands MP, who wouldn’t even mention the consultation in his Chelsea-Fulham constituency newsletter when asked.
2023: IT’S BEEN A BUSY YEAR…
So much happening that in the first quarter, we produced a snapshot feature covering developments such as what the politicians said and did, and moves towards a Judicial Review..
Apart from ABD, other sources of information include
Action Against ULEZ Extension (link to Facebook group)
and the local press (spin warnings on some official comments)
News Shopper (SE London)
My London (Reach / Trinity Mirror group)
THE HISTORY – TO EARLY 2022 …
Our article on Khan's 2021 Manifesto showed the viciously anti-driver policies of the Mayor who had posed as ‘a Mayor for all Londoners’.. .
In particular, his campaign was bland on road pricing – otherwise he would not have been re-elected. His Manifesto merely said he would monitor his road-charging schemes for ‘benefits’ (e.g. over congestion) and identify where further action is needed.
It is clear that he wants to extract even more money from over-taxed drivers.
On 18 January 2022, he made clear his aspirations:
● He says he needs to charge drivers a "small" daily fee of up to £2 for "all but the cleanest vehicles" on the pretext of air quality. (‘Small’ – means up to £732 a year more! There would also be issues for population surveillance.)
● He is also considering charging drivers from outside the capital who wish to travel into Greater London. (For many that would be a tax on going to work, and Londoners would suffer if their tradesmen had to pass on the cost. There would be other quirks, such as forcing drivers just outside Greater London to drive further.)
● He is also considering making the current ULEZ charging zone Londonwide.
● In the longer term, he says he needs to bring in a pay-per-mile road pricing system. (Just what the lobbyists have been agitating for.)
BBC MyLondon GLA PR (spin warning!)
There was little of real substance on the proposals. Any proposal would be ‘subject to feasibility and consultation’, so the charges were not a done deal. The first two listed were duly ruled out.
However after the May 2022 council elections, Transport for London launched a consultation, with the publicity majoring on expanding the ULEZ.
This diverted some attention away from Khan’s less loudly publicised desire for Londonwide road pricing.
Rather than propose clear detail – including a projected breakdown of costs and revenue – Khan just sought to update his Mayor’s Transport Strategy document with a policy to introduce road pricing. Softly softly catchee monkey’ by Transport for London?
Despite the playing down, one of the long consultation documents made the assumption that Londonwide road pricing would be in place by 2026.
For updates on ABD’s campaign to stop Khan, see the links at the top.
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