Opposition to London Plan on Parking Levels

A report in Local Transport Today (LTT) has highlighted how some London Boroughs are strongly opposed to Mayor Sadiq Khan’s London Plan which is currently the subject of a public consultation (see https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/london-plan-abd-submits-comments/ for background). The main concern is the proposed new controls on parking provision in new housing developments. These have been substantially reduced such that many developments in central London will have exactly zero provision for parking (and that would be legally enforced). Even outer London where public transport access is high (PTAL levels 5 and 6) would also be covered by the zero rule, and even where PTAL levels are much lower parking provision will be severely restricted.

This is of course part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy to drive car usage out of London altogether. In addition he is reducing the ability of local Boroughs to make their own decisions on what is most appropriate for their boroughs, thus increasing the centralised dictatorship or the Mayor and TfL. This is what Lisa Fairmaner of L.B.Kingston had to say to councillors “[It is] a direct challenge to local government in London with the mayor taking over a detailed planning policy role that should be carried out by local authorities through their local plans”. She suggested the Mayor was exceeding his powers.

The Leader of Bromley Council, Councillor Colin Smith, issued a statement in December which criticised the housing targets and impossibility of providing the necessary infrastructure to support many more residents. The maximum parking provision was also criticised by Bromley in the LTT report, including the inability of councils to set minimum parking provision standards.

It is surely no surprise that outer London boroughs, and their residents, are not happy with the Mayor’s proposals which are as usual developed with a mindset that cycling, walking and public transport are the only transport modes that should be used in London. This simply takes no account of the needs and desires of many residents, particularly the elderly and disabled of which there are enormous numbers in London. Restricting parking provision does not stop people owning cars but just causes the roads to be clogged up by parked vehicles with obstructive parking becoming commonplace. Parking provision should be dictated solely by market demand for it, as the ABD said in our submission to the London Plan consultation.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Press Release: TfL Forced to Disclose ULEZ Costs

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has issued the following press release:

Back in April 2017 the ABD responded to a public consultation on the proposed extension of the ULEZ. However we criticised the lack of information on the cost/benefit of the scheme, indeed of any information on costs and likely revenues at all, which made making an informed response to the consultation difficult.

As Transport for London (TfL) refused to provide such information when requested we submitted a Freedom of Information Act request. TfL refused the request on the grounds of “commercial confidentiality” so we asked for a review and subsequently appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

They have upheld our complaint and so we should get the requested information after all (unless they appeal to the First Tier Tribunal). But is it not disgraceful that TfL can obstruct and delay this legitimate need for such information?

TfL claimed it was commercially sensitive because they were already talking to possible suppliers but the ICO judged that there was insufficient evidence that such disclosure would result in specific harm to TfL that would justify refusal.

In our view the ULEZ proposals are out of proportion to the benefit to be obtained. The fact that TfL are apparently reluctant to disclose the financial budgets for this scheme suggests to us that it is more about tax raising than simply tackling the air pollution health issue.

In addition the costs of the scheme may be so high that even with the additional taxes raised from vehicle users, it may be unaffordable. BUT WE DON’T KNOW BECAUSE TFL REFUSED TO TELL US.

It is unfortunately typical of late for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to issue public consultations in his name that are biased polemics of the benefits of his proposals while not disclosing the facts. Democracy is undermined when a public authority acts in this way.

It is further undermined when TfL refuse to disclose information and by doing so delay its release past the consultation due date when they know any appeal process will take many months.

There is great public concern about the costs imposed on London residents by the ULEZ proposals, often on the poorest residents. It needs to be clear that the benefits are justified by the costs and that more cost effective solutions to tackle London’s poor air quality cannot be found.

More information will be published when we get the requested data; in the meantime you can read the ICO’s decision notice here: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/ICO-Decision-ULEZ-Request.pdf

More Information

The ULEZ proposals are part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy which the ABD is vigorously campaigning against – see this web page for more information: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm

There is also an attack on vehicle usage and parking provision in the “London Plan” which the ABD is also opposing on the grounds of irrationally and the use of emotive phrases such as “car dependency” to describe people’s rational choice of transport mode. See the above web page for our recent submission to the public consultation on the London Plan.

For more information on this issue, contact Roger Lawson on 020-8295-0378.

London Plan – ABD Submits Comments

We made some initial comments on the “London Plan” in December. That is a document that spells out how Mayor Sadiq Khan intends to plan your life – at least so far as residents of London are concerned or those who have to use the transport system in the capital.

What’s the London Plan? It’s a document that sets the “spatial development” strategy for London over the next few years and has legal implications for planning developments, housing construction, transport infrastructure, and many other aspects of our lives.

The London Plan spells out how he intends to enforce “modal shift”, i.e. force you to use public transport or walk/cycle and ensure you take more exercise to improve your health. He intends to turn roads whose essential purpose is the movement of goods and people into places for “social interaction”.

Cars and other private transport modes will be discouraged by such means as reducing parking provision to zero, thus forcing us back into the Victorian era if not further.

He wants to fix his budget problems arising from financial incompetence and promises he made to get elected, now called a “funding gap”, by raising taxes including taking control of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).

Some of this is covered in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy of course which we have encouraged people to respond to. But the important point is that unlike that where the Mayor will decide on the outcome, the London Plan is the subject of an inquiry led by a Planning Inspector, i.e. it’s an independent review.

You can see what the ABD has submitted to the inquiry on the London Plan here: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/London-Plan-ABD-Comments-Submitted.pdf

You can also submit your own comments on the London Plan to the public consultation by going here: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/london-plan/new-london-plan/comment-draft-london-plan . Please be sure to do so. The more comments that are received, the better.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Sadiq Khan Decides PCNs Will Increase

Back in September 2017 Transport for London (TfL) announced a consultation on proposed increases in the level of PCN charges. They proposed to increase the standard charge for not paying the Congestion Charge (a.k.a. Tax), and for red route and other infringements, to £160 from £130. That’s a 23% increase which is much higher than inflation of course.

As we said at the time, this looks like part of the Mayor’s strategy to make life more and more difficult for the average motorist as a very high proportion of infringements that result in PCNs are accidental or from ignorance by drivers rather than deliberate avoidance. In addition it will also help the Mayor’s budget which he continues to have problems with due to unwise past decisions.

Sadiq Khan has now decided to proceed with the proposals as they stand. The public consultation results show a lot of opposition (the full report on that is available here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/general/penalty-charge-notices/ ). There were 7,411 responses to the consultation (including one from the ABD of course). Many of them came from central London boroughs but there were a large number from outside London also.

TfL analysed the main issues raised by respondents and there were over 4,000 which criticised the proposals on various grounds. Only 265 responses were supportive of the increase, with another 325 making alternative suggestions. In reality that demonstrates there was widespread opposition to the change from the general public and even among “stakeholders” a number of concerns were expressed. The lack of data to support the proposal was also criticised.

But Sadiq Khan and TfL have rejected all these comments and are going ahead regardless. That’s how democracy works in London. The Mayor decides he needs some more money, does a token “consultation” and then does what he proposed in the first place. It’s called a dictatorship.

The Congestion Charge

One of the interesting comments in the report in response to criticism of Mr Khan’s motives for increasing the charge was that £1.9 billion in net revenue was generated by the Congestion Charge over the last fourteen years. This was fed into “on going investment in the Capital’s transport infrastructure” it says, but then goes on to say that £1.5 billion of that was spent on improvements to the bus network. In other words, the vast majority of the income surplus was used to subsidise the losses on London buses where usage continues to fall.

So motorists (and goods vehicle owners) are continuing to pay through the nose to subsidise public transport and other programmes from which they get no benefit. Instead of funding for road network improvements, all we get is funding to make it worse – such as the millions spent on cycle superhighways.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Street Lights, Charging Points and Electric Taxis

One of the problems in London for vehicle owners who wish to buy an electric one is how to recharge it. Many Londoners do not have off street parking facilities but park in the road near their house. One solution is for local councils to implement charging sockets in street lamps. Two London boroughs are trying out such arrangements.

Kensington & Chelsea are installing 50 charging points in street lighting columns next to pay and display parking bays on a trial basis. Users have to purchase a cable and pay a subscription plus a charge for the electricity used. Wandsworth is likewise to install 50 charging points on a similar scheme.

These installations are only possible where the lamp posts are next to the kerb to avoid cables crossing the footpath. Unfortunately in many roads the street lights are not at the kerb but are on the side of the footpath next to front gardens and moving them, plus the electricity supply, would be enormously expensive. Different councils seem to have adopted differing policies on street lighting positioning in the past.

London Electric Taxi

Meanwhile electric black cabs have hit the streets of London. Initial deliveries of the £55,000 vehicles from the London EV Company have commenced. The taxis can travel up to 80 miles on electric charge alone, but have a back-up petrol engine that enables them to continue thereafter. The new taxi got very positive reviews in the media in terms of facilities and comfort. All new taxis have to be zero emission capable from the start of 2018.

But there are only a couple of recharging points that the new cabs can use in central London at present. An £18m scheme to install 75 rapid charging stations by the end of this year is behind schedule and Steve McNamara of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association was quoted as saying “The whole thing is just a farce, you couldn’t make it up”. TfL claim there will be up to 200 such points by the end of 2018.

Roger Lawson

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

 

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Sadiq Khan Plans Your Life

If you live in London, you should pay attention to the “London Plan” that Mayor Sadiq Khan has recently published. Indeed if you live in other large conurbations you might wish to review it also because the policies he is promoting might spread elsewhere.

What’s the London Plan? It’s a document that sets the “spatial development” strategy for London over the next few years and has legal implications for planning developments, housing construction, transport infrastructure, and many other aspects of our lives.

The Mayor makes it plain that London needs to cope with the rapidly expanding population and business activity. The population of London might reach 10.5 million by 2041 he says (currently 8.8 million). That means a lot more houses have to be built (66,000 per annum he says) and support for more workplaces.

In addition it has major implications for transport infrastructure while at the same time he wants to clean up London’s air. He wants to make London a “zero carbon” city by 2050, although no doubt he will be long gone by then. As part of this he aims to reduce “car dependency” (an emotive and inaccurate phrase disparaging people who have made a rational or personal choice about how they travel when you don’t see this said about those who rely on cycles for their daily travel needs).

Why has the population of London grown so rapidly in recent years and continues to do so? Page 12 of the Plan explains why. It says 40 per cent of Londoners were born outside the UK, and the city is now home to 1 million EU citizens, no doubt attracted by the vibrant London economy. This has put a major strain on housing, transport, social services and other infrastructure (incidentally an unbelievable 1.2 million Londoners are apparently “disabled”).

This state of affairs has come about because of national policies on immigration with no effective policies to distribute that more widely across the country compounded no doubt by a desire by some politicians to improve their chances of being elected.

Specifically looking at transport, the Mayor’s target is for 80% of all journeys to be made by walking, cycling and public transport (that of course includes the 14% of Londoners who are disabled!). It’s currently 64%. This is going to mean an aggressive set of policies to reduce car use – hence our campaign against the Mayor’s Transport Strategy which supports the London Plan – see http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm

The Mayor highlights the health inequalities in London, with deprived areas of London having reduced life expectancies (as much as 15 years for men and 19 years for women) surely an astonishing statistic. What is the reason for this? Poor housing conditions are certainly one, but lack of daily activity is allegedly another so the Mayor wants us all to be walking and cycling.

The Mayor does have plans to improve public transport including proposals for Crossrail 2 and extension of the Bakerloo line but these proposals will do relatively little to soak up the increased demand, and with no proposals of significance to improve the road network, hence no doubt the need to encourage us all to walk or cycle.

The Mayor’s plans to support the need for more housing include targets for every London borough (for example over 2,000 new homes every year in Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Greenwich, Hounslow, Newham, Southwark, and Tower Hamlets). This includes high concentration developments in locations with good public transport access levels (PTALs), particularly inner London boroughs. Outer London boroughs might see a relaxation of planning regulations to allow more “in-fill” developments including building on back gardens as the Conservatives promptly complained about. There will be more encouragement for smaller builders, more efficient building techniques and “proactive” intervention in London’s land market (more “compulsory purchase” perhaps).

One aspect of transport infrastructure that the London Plan covers is that of parking provision for new housing, office or shop developments. It wants most developments to be “car free” (i.e. no parking provision), particularly those with high PTAL levels. The details of what this means in practice are not clear, but it looks like the intention is to reduce parking provision substantially, thus resulting in more on-street parking and obstruction.

The Mayor concludes his near 500-page tome on the subject of the “Funding Gap”. By this he means the gap between the public sector funding required to support London’s growth (and his plans) and the money currently committed. In other words, he wants more money, including a bigger share of taxation collected from Londoners. For example, he repeats his call for control of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) which any right-thinking person should surely oppose. Yes the Mayor wants more money and more power. Unfortunately the establishment of directly elected Mayors such as Mr Khan has resulted in empire building of the worst kind. They are effectively dictators within their realms with no effective democratic constraints on their policies and negligible public accountability.

In summary, it is not clear that the building of lots of new homes (which of course will emit more pollutants, particularly during constructions, more than offsetting any reduction from restraining car use), of a fairly low standard in dense conurbations, is going to improve the quality of life for Londoners. It is undoubtedly the case that more new homes are needed in London but building new homes without complementary improvements to the transport infrastructure, which has consistently lagged behind the growth in London’s population, does not make much sense.

As is already seen in the statistics, older London residents are moving out and being replaced by immigrants. Some readers might wish to consider doing the same given the outlook for the quality of life in London. Simply reacting to the population growth in London without trying to constrain it, or divert it elsewhere, is surely a mistake.

You can submit your comments on the London Plan to the public consultation by going here: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/london-plan/new-london-plan/comment-draft-london-plan . Please be sure to do so.

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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