National, and London Infrastructure, Both Deplorable

Just to emphasise how bad the transport infrastructure is in this country, and particularly in London, here are some recent comments from Lord Adonis, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (a think-tank set up by the Government to advise it).

He said traffic speeds in London had fallen dramatically over the past five years and in much of the City were lower than in 1914. In addition, between 2012 and 2015, speeds on inner London roads fell by up to 9% (and that’s before the full impact of the Cycle Superhighways).

Another example is that overcrowding on rail services in London was up by 45% between 2011 and 2016.

He especially pressed the need to address “perhaps the most serious infrastructure failure of all” and reach a firm decision on expanding Heathrow Airport – an issue yet to be resolved 13 years after the initial statement of policy for a third runway.

He effectively suggested that without action the UK faced gridlock accompanied by worsening air quality and that “we’ve got to get real about tackling congestion and with it, air pollution….”.

Comment: There are two things that are required to solve these problems: a) Government commitment and real action rather than more debate; b) sensible plans that might improve matters rather than political gestures that talk about making “London’s streets places for active travel and social interaction….” which is the key foundation of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s London Transport Strategy. That has little to do with improving the transport network for the efficient movement of goods and people which is what it should really be for.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Mayor’s Transport Strategy – Campaign Report

The formal consultation on the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) is over but responses to our campaign against it are still coming in. Thanks to all those who have submitted objections to TfL or the Mayor or have helped in other ways. Here is a summary of what has been achieved. More information on our campaign is present here: AGAINST-MTS

The campaign hasn’t been an easy one. The public consultation on this very important issue was launched in the Summer months and with minimal publicity by Mayor Sadiq Khan. As a result, media coverage was low. In addition lots of information about the proposals was concealed and requests under the Freedom of Information Act frustrated. In summary, a defective public consultation both legally and morally.

Myself and Brian Mooney put in a lot of work on social media, getting circulation on email lists and delivering tens of thousands of leaflets (with the assistance of other volunteers) so as to raise awareness of what Sadiq Khan is planning – effectively an attack on all private transport modes using the “healthy streets” concept and environmental scare stories in support. One way or another, we reached into all 32 London boroughs, despite working against the clock. We got positive responses in support from all parts of London and all sections of the community. You can read some of the comments received here: PUBLIC-COMMENTS

We will wait to see the results of the public consultation in the next few weeks and let you know what is published. But the Mayor may well ignore public criticisms of his plans (he can do that as he is effectively a dictator in London), so we will have to continue to fight on the individual proposals as they are progressed.

For example, allowing local boroughs to bring forward congestion charging plans may provide further battlegrounds and there will be Borough elections in May next year where you can express your opinions. The Mayor has admitted that he is in discussion with unnamed boroughs to bring forward congestion charging plans. This will not just create problems in an individual borough because to avoid being charged traffic will divert into neighbouring boroughs and create pressure for charging in that borough too. This disastrous domino effect has already been shown with CPZs. A similar pattern could occur if boroughs are forced to remove parking spaces.

It is important to communicate your views on the Mayor’s Transport Strategy to your local borough councillors, London Assembly Members and even your local Members of Parliament over the next few months. If you don’t know who they are, contact us for assistance (go to CONTACT ).

But we do need more financial support if we are to continue this fight (the campaign has already cost the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) several thousands of pounds and we could have done a lot more with more resources.

PLEASE DO MAKE A DONATION NOW HERE: DONATE

THE ABOVE IS VERY IMPORTANT. TO PUT UP A GOOD FIGHT WE NEED BETTER FINANCIAL SUPPORT AS WELL AS ENTHUSIASTIC VOLUNTEERS!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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ABD Response to Mayor’s Transport Strategy

The Alliance of British Drivers has published its formal response to the public consultation on the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS).

The Mayor’s proposals are completely distorted because he does not seem to understand what roads are for. This is our answer to the first question posed in the consultation: “It states on page 11 that “London’s streets should be for active travel and social interaction….”. This is nonsense. Streets are built and maintained at great public expense to provide an efficient and cost effective transport system for people and goods. If people need exercise, or social interaction, there are many other ways they can obtain that without taking up scarce road space. The priority should be on providing a transport network in London that meets the business needs and preferences of the public. It should not be distorted to meet other objectives.”

The full document is present here: ABD-Response. It’s well worth reading.

The MTS has a very heavy emphasis on environmental issues and one useful contribution on the debate about air pollution in London and how to tackle it has recently been published by the GLA Conservatives. It is present here: Clearing-the-Air . It shows there are good alternatives to the Mayor’s proposals which would not put such a heavy financial burden on London’s residents and businesses.

You can already see the impact of some of the Mayor’s policies in the news from TfL that license fees for Uber to operate in London will rise from £3,000 to £3 million for a 5-year license!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right.

A Vision in a Dream, After Coleridge

 

The following manuscript has recently come to light, perhaps written by an acolyte of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Roger Lawson

<A Fragment>

In London did Sadiq Khan

A stately Transport Strategy decree:

Where the Thames, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

   Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and tower blocks girdled round;

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many a conker tree;

And here were roads ancient as the Romans,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted

Down among the City streets!

A savage place! As Mammon rampaged free

As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted

By women wailing for West End shopping!

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,

A mighty fountain momently was forced:

Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,

Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:

And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever

It flung up momently the sacred river.

Fifty miles meandering with a mazy motion

Through East End industry and London’s suburbs,

Then reached the caverns measureless to man,

And sank in tumult to a polluted North Sea;

And ’mid this tumult Sadiq heard from far

Ancestral voices prophesying air pollution doom!

   The shadow of the dome of the GLA

   Located nigh the sacred river;

   Where was heard the mingled pleas

   From politicians left and right.

It was a miracle of rare device,

An un-costed Transport Strategy at the behest of Sadiq!

   A damsel with a dulcimer

   In a vision once I saw:

   It was an East European maid

   And on her dulcimer she played,

   Singing of Mount Street Mayfair.

   Could I revive within me

   Her symphony and song,

   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,

That with music loud and long,

I would build anew that dome,

Upon a new democratic model!

With freedom to ride the roads at will,

And all should cry, Beware the wrath of Khan!

His flashing eyes, his floating hair!

Weave a circle round him thrice,

And close your eyes with holy dread

For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of Paradise.

<End>

The ABD’s comments on Sadiq Khan’s Transport Strategy are present here: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm . Please register your opposition.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right.

Opposition to Mayor’s Air Pollution Plans

I have covered some of the dubious aspects of the Mayor’s approach to tackling air pollution in London before. The T-Charge and ULEZ plans will be very expensive for Londoners, may have little effect and will target private car users unnecessarily when they are very minor contributors to emissions.

Campaign group FairFuelUK have launched a fund-raising to finance a judicial review of the T-Charge. The Toxicity Charge is a £10 penalty to be paid from October by older vehicles that do not meet newer emission standards if they are driven into the central Congestion Charging area. In summary they argue that even TfL concede it will have little impact on air pollution so it’s another of those “political gestures” that will impose major costs on some of the poorer road users. Go here for more information and to help fund the case: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/stop-toxic-taxes/

Their arguments are backed up by a recently published report from the GLA Conservatives under the title “Clearing The Air”. This is a comprehensive analysis of London’s air pollution problems, and Mayor Sadiq Khan’s proposals. It also makes some alternative suggestions which would lessen the financial impact of the plans.

They also argue that the T-Charge should be scrapped and plans to bring forward the ULEZ by a year and then extending it across most of London should be abandoned. They point out that just implementing the latter could cost as much as £810 million, i.e. £220 for every household in London.

Make sure you read their full report if you want to get a good understanding of the issues around transport and air pollution in London. See: http://glaconservatives.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ClearingTheAir.pdf

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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What Has the Mayor Got To Hide?

N.B. For more information on the Mayor’s drastic proposals in his transport strategy and an easy means of objecting to them, please visit www.cantpaywontpay.london

The national ABD has issued the following press release on this subject:

In June, London Mayor Sadiq Khan opened a crucial consultation that will decide the future of transport in London. The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has spoken to several members of the public and found that hardly anyone was aware of it. Some felt that it had been seriously under-publicised.

There have been occasional tube station posters, but they are very bland, mentioning housing and employment but not the quite drastic policies planned for drivers. For instance, the Mayor’s Transport Strategy threatens the extension of the Congestion Charge across Greater London and new taxes to force drivers out of their cars.

Congestion charging spokesman Brian Mooney asks: “What has the Mayor got to hide?

He amazingly claims that drivers pay too little to use the roads and they are subsidised by public transport users. Our research provides evidence to the contrary – that drivers pay four to five times over to use the roads and our taxes in fact subsidise public transport. The Mayor’s office was challenged to provide some evidence via a Freedom of Information Request, but could produce none.” [1] [2] [3] [4]

If he thinks that the overtaxed driving public will support him forcing us to pay even more – or worse still depriving us of using the roads we’ve paid for – then he should at least be upfront with us over his plans.

It would be quite unacceptable if he takes silence as approval for his uncosted proposals  – or even a blank cheque. Particularly as he was elected on a promise not to extend the Congestion Charge. [5]

I challenge the Mayor to appear on a mainstream phone-in with me to face the public over this important issue. This should be within the next three weeks to meet the consultation deadline.” [6] [ENDS]

Notes for Editors

[1] The claim is on p265 of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy consultation draft. “…the fundamentally inadequate and unfair way in which road use is paid for in London, with motorists paying too little, and in effect being subsidised by public transport fare payers.” https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/transport/our-vision-transport/ draft-mayors-transport-strategy-2017   Evidence to the contrary illustrating the net tax paid by drivers is on http://www.fairdealforthemotorist.org.uk/2017mts4.htm#_FOOTNOTE

[2] FOI request: MGLA280717-2452, correspondence available on request.  Failure to respond properly breaches both GLA and wider Local Government standards. “The Mayor is determined that the GLA leads the way in openness and transparency.” https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/governance-and-spending/sharing-our-information/openness-and-transparency https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/522205/Local_government_transparency_code_FAQ.pdf

[3] ABD London Chairman Roger Lawson has experienced similar evasion from Mayor Khan’s aides at Transport for London. Roger asked for basic financial information on the costs and benefits of the ULEZ proposals, but no budgets or estimates of the costs have been provided (FOI Request Ref: FOI-0071-1718) – it is currently subject to a complaint to the Information Commissioner but the delays alone have frustrated democracy.

[4] There is other evidence that the Mayor’s MTS consultation does not meet legal expectations. Cabinet Office consultation guidelines include: “Consultations should provide sufficient information to ensure the process is fair.” https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/consultation-principles-guidance  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data /file/255180/Consultation-Principles-Oct-2013.pdf  The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 “The demands of fairness are likely to be higher when the consultation relates to a decision which is likely to deprive someone of an existing benefit.” (UKSC56, Haringey v Moseley) https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/search-results.html?q=Moseley%20v%20Haringey  In a more recent case, Justice Patterson reiterated the principles upheld by the Supreme Court case that a consultation will be fair if it: 1. communicates the public authority’s proposal to those with a potential interest; 2. explains why that proposal is being considered; 3. provides the consultees with sufficient information to make informed responses to the proposals. (R (Angharad Morris and Donna Thomas) v Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council [2015] EWHC 1403 (Admin)) http://www.burges-salmon.com/practices/disputes_and_litigation/publications/public_consultation_does_not _necessarily_need_to_set_out_alternative_options_moseley_revisited.pdf

[5] The 300 page MTS document fails to give proper ballpark figures for what will certainly be the large sums of money Mayor Khan plans to take from those who can currently afford to drive in London or the substantial cost of implementing his schemes. Sadiq Khan’s 2016 manifesto promised (p36) “to maintain the Congestion Charge at its current level”. http://www.sadiq.london/a_manifesto_for_all_londoners  The MTS threatens a range of punishing measures including: – Extending the Congestion Charge (road pricing) London-wide, with drivers being charged to use local roads – New and higher motoring taxes to stop drivers using our cars – A ‘workplace parking levy’ – a tax on going to work – Reduction in the availability of parking – Measures to remove road space from drivers who’ve paid for it – Gratuitous ‘car-free days’, road closures and speed restrictions www.cantpaywontpay.london

[6] This offer is specifically aimed at the Mayor, not an underling or lobbyist substitute, as he made his promise in a personal manifesto. The timescale would be between now and 20 September to allow listeners adequate time to respond to the consultation which concludes on 2 October. Brian Mooney is due to be away in late September. Mainstream phone-ins would be on recognised London radio stations like LBC or TalkRadio, between the hours of 7am and 10pm, and at reasonable (at least 24 hours’) notice. The offer is made by Brian Mooney.

Judicial Reviews invoked by Motoring Groups

T-Charge. The Sun has reported that FairFuelUK are planning to challenge the Mayor of London’s introduction of the “Toxicity Tax” (“T-Charge”) via a judicial review in the High Court. This is a tax of £10 on certain older vehicles that do not meet newer emission standards that is being imposed from October if they are driven into the central congestion charge area.

The challenge will be on the basis that it is unfair discrimination against a small minority of road users when other vehicles (e.g. TfL buses) and other sources (e.g. construction machinery and diggers) generate more pollution. In other words, it is an unreasonable attack on car users.

FairFuelUK may be looking for financial support to enable them to fight this case (judicial reviews are expensive), so anyone interested in this matter should keep an eye open for further news.

Croydon 20MPH. Another judicial review where the case has already been filed in court is that over the public consultation in Croydon on implementation of the blanket 20 MPH speed limit. The ABD supported an active local campaign against the proposals (see http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Croydon20.htm ) and we have also complained to the Council about the defective consultation process. The process was changed from one area to another, apparently with the objective of obtaining the desired result, the information provided to residents was biased, the results ignored, and objections not considered properly. There are established legal principles about how public consultation should be run to ensure they are fair and unbiased, which is no doubt the basis of the challenge.

Both cases are in essence about illogical and unreasonable attacks on car and van drivers in the name of environmental improvement when there will allegedly be negligible advantage but significant costs imposed on drivers.

Roger Lawson