QUICK INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY …
● The key policy document for London, the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. keeps TfL’s options open for road pricing.
● The under-publicised consultation on ULEZ (2022) had questions on what sort of road pricing might be introduced – and assumed that it would be in place London-wide by 2026. 83% of responses were opposed.
● Even so, in 2023 the Greater London Assembly announced a further consultation on what it might look like.
● Officially ‘no decision has been made’, so why has TfL recruited several contractors working on developing road pricing systems? People have also noticed the haste to get in ANPR surveillance cameras for London-wide ULEZ despite its great unpopularity. The cameras might just double up for road pricing?
FROM ULEZ TO LONDON-WIDE ROAD PRICING? …
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The current hot issue is ULEZ expansion. Various parties have applied for a Judicial Review to stop it.
There is one view that despite the bluster about doing things properly, Mayor Khan will drop his plans to escape a damning hearing exposing malpractice.
Another view is that he will hang on until the court quashes his Order making ULEZ London-wide, but then moan both about air quality and a massive shortfall in revenue. (JRs are purely concerned with ‘due process’ and don’t decide the appropriateness of ‘the science’).
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>TfL are already employing contractors to develop ‘road user charging systems’, but we are told that ‘the technology isn’t ready yet’…. Is the Mayor again hoping to tread softly until he can get re-elected in 2024?
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>In February, the GLA Transport Committee launched a call for evidence on ‘smart road user charging’. Despite the timescale being suspiciously short (29 days), the Alliance of British Drivers made this response.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>In TfL’s consultation last year, a massive 83% of responses were hostile to road pricing! (See Consultation reports, Appendix F, p112).
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Other clues were given in that consultation, during which ULEZ got almost all the coverage and the Mayor’s road pricing ambitions were conveniently much under-publicised. We can see why – the following self-satisfied hype from TfL is just insulting to our intelligence!
“…further action will be needed in the long-term to achieve the necessary levels of traffic and emissions reductions to continue to improve Londoners’ health and to meet net zero carbon targets to tackle the climate emergency. This may require the introduction of London-wide road user charging by 2030 at the latest, as set out by an Element Energy analysis of a 2030 net zero target for London. The analysis notes that all scenarios would benefit from London-wide road user charging being introduced as early as possible…”.
TAKING YOU, YOUR MONEY AND PRIVACY FOR GRANTED…
TAXING OVER 1 IN 4 JOURNEYS OFF THE ROAD?
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Even less publicised was the assumption that road pricing would be in place by 2026… in a long and very technical consultation document known as ‘the Jacobs Report’. The Jacobs Report also gives the game away that the proposed scheme will “have a negligible beneficial impact on carbon emissions in Greater London.”
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The ‘necessary reductions’ are 27% of our car journeys and are based on a strange report from the Element Energy consultancy . For some reason, the Mayor insists on aiming for the ‘Net Zero’ fantasy world target by 2030, 20 years ahead of national government.
The bizarre Orwellian webpage “Pathways to Net Zero Carbon by 2030” bleats:
“Fairness must be at the heart of the net zero pathway... We must ensure we are supporting those on low incomes from the costs.”
Yet the ULEZ expansion – a stepping stone to London-wide road pricing by getting the surveillance cameras in – will seriously harm many poorer and lower-paid people.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>There is a possible sting in the tail, a change of tone in response to this? Apart from vehicle-related factors like emissions and distance travelled, TfL hinted that in their brave new world, charges could be based on ‘household income’, ‘where you drive’ and ‘available alternatives such as walking and cycling’.
Yet they have the nerve to pretend that this would ‘’respect privacy’ with ‘the minimum possible collection and use of personal data’. It would be quite the opposite – who decides if your journey to work or the shops is optimum or even ‘necessary’, or whether you should be having a delivery by Ocado or Amazon?
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Apart from being irrational and irrelevant to road use – targeting income could compromise privacy within a family. We are talking about a ‘Big Brother’ mentality, a bureaucracy getting too big for its jackboots! It makes you wonder how steep the charges will be if journeys are to be taxed off the road to meet the 27% target?
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>In the shorter term, he wants to install thousands of cameras across London to bring in more taxes and fines on drivers. There are issues for population surveillance.
ADDING INSULT TO INJURY … KHAN’S HYPOCRISY
Khan is a hypocrite - in his 2021 Manifesto (p33), he crowed:
“The Tories tried to force an extension to the Congestion Charge to the North and South Circulars….But I stood firm and stopped [it] from happening.”
He has also – repeatedly - let off lavish fireworks displays when it suited him and been enthusiastic about cannabis farms in California, which would be great for air quality if replicated over here. Finally, he has tried to push more people to use the tube even though the air quality is better at street level.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Is it ‘London’s toxic air’ or ‘London’s toxic Mayor’, please, Mr Khan? In the shorter term, he wants to justify increased taxes on poorer drivers on ‘climate change’ and ‘air quality’ grounds. It’s funny that if Greater London’s air is so filthy (as he claims), why is he always urging people to walk and cycle in it?
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The suggestion that around 4,000 Londoners die a year as a result of air pollution is a bit of a try-on. Visit here for a rebuttal on the deaths.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The Mayor’s consultation proposals didn’t feature a proper cost-revenue analysis, which is a major omission. Surely Londoners have the right to know how much it will all cost (taxpayers’ money one way or another)? Also to know how much the Mayor will be making out of us (revenue)? Did he expect us to just rubber-stamp his hyped proposals?
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Mayor Khan has previously eyed the £500m of car tax (VED) Londoners pay to the Government every year, “If the Government refuses, I will ask TfL to consider other ways of raising income”. He has recently levied a charge of £20 on council tax bills for Transport for London, who are pushing for unpopular schemes like LTNs (Low Traffic Neighbourhoods) that force traffic onto main roads. They make drivers travel further, burning more fuel and increasing emissions.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>“A million tickets a year are set to be issued to speeding motorists in London following a massive expansion of 20mph limits and the roll-out of new LASERcam 4 speed cameras” (Evening Standard, 25.2.22)
SORRY, MR MAYOR …. It’s a case of KHAN’T PAY, WON’T PAY
The Alliance of British Drivers is pleased to be part of the
backlash against the Mayor’s money-raking proposals.
Please help spread the word and - better still - actively support us in calling
for a fairer deal for drivers who already pay billions a year in taxes.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 07976-414913