London is Open, But Should It Be Closed?

This article was originally conceived as one being about the latest increases in transport congestion in London. The last couple of weeks seem to have been much busier than normal with high traffic congestion. In addition public transport has been particularly bad, not helped by the recent strikes on the tube which of course Mayor Sadiq Khan promised to put a stop to in his election campaign. He promised “zero days of strikes”, but perhaps he is too busy trying to tackle rising crime levels in London.

But these transport issues are surely the result of too many people in London with no improvements in the road network to compensate for the rising population and “densification” of the capital. Likewise inadequate public transport capacity has arisen because building new capacity never catches up with the growth in demand and available funding. A substantial part of the population increase has arisen from immigration.

Last Friday the Mayor reiterated his “London is Open” campaign by inviting EU Ambassadors to a meeting at City Hall. The meeting focussed on “Brexit and the welfare of EU communities living in London”. How many people have come from the EU to live in London? About 1 million in fact. That’s not even counting the sons and daughters of immigrants.

The Mayor is then going to visit Berlin and Paris where he will reiterate that London is “open to talent”. I guess that means he is happy to encourage more immigration as he has said before. The “London is Open” campaign was launched with this headline: “Let’s say together – me, you, and thousands of other Londoners – that despite Brexit, London will always be open to the world, proud of our diversity and inclusive to everyone”.

If the Mayor wishes to solve London’s transport problems surely he should be encouraging people to move out of London and discouraging more immigration. London is overcrowded already. We don’t need more people here.

Perhaps Mrs May will welcome Sadiq Khan’s interference in the Brexit negotiations which he is also doing of late and in these meetings, but I suspect not. His policies on immigration are certainly not likely to be of positive benefit to most Londoners even if he thinks they might help him to get re-elected. Immigration might provide useful workers in some roles, but they also add to housing demand where there is gross shortage. They also contribute to congestion on the roads and on public transport while requiring more social services to support them. That includes more police when in fact their numbers have been falling which is a contributor to the rising crime rate in London.

It’s surely time for the Mayor to change his spots, or for us to get a new Mayor who can adopt more rational policies.

Roger Lawson

The views expressed in this article on solely those of the author as applies to all our blog posts.

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Borough LIPs and new Facebook Page

London Boroughs have to produce a Transport Local Implementation Plan (LIP) in the next few months. These LIPs have to be consistent with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy or they might not get approved. This is one way that Mayor Sadiq Khan is forcing local boroughs to implement his policies and undermining local democracy.

Local boroughs not only know what is best for their area, but also what it is practical to achieve and what the residents and business will accept. But Transport for London (TfL) are dictating many aspects – for example they are giving specific targets for “modal shift” to each borough.

For example, in Lewisham their draft LIP proposes that 72% of journeys will be made by walking cycling and public transport by 2021 with a 3 to 5 percent reduction in traffic by the same date. By 2041 their target is a 15 to 20 percent reduction in traffic accompanied by a sharp reduction in car ownership. Many people would no doubt also like to see reduced traffic but such targets can only be achieved by draconian steps to change your lifestyle. Instead of improving the road transport network in Lewisham to reduce traffic congestion, their plan is basically to make life difficult for vehicle owners accompanied by such measures as road closures.

Draft LIPs are being issued and many are now open to public consultation. You need to respond to the LIP consultation in your local borough if we are to stop or delay many of the proposed measures. PLEASE DO SO NOW.

To find your local council’s draft LIP and the public consultation, simply search the web for the council’s name and the words “Local Implementation Plan”. Or go to your local council’s web site and search that.

The deadline for responses to public consultations on LIPs may be quite short so do check for its availability and respond as soon as possible. You might also wish to give your objections to aspects of the LIP to your local ward councillors.

Facebook Page Against the MTS

The ABD has created a new Facebook page dedicated to our campaign against the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. In addition to posting any news on the campaign on our ABD London Blog we will also post it on the new Facebook page so that Facebook users can easily pick it up. You can of course add your own comments to articles there.

The page is named “Against MTS” – see https://www.facebook.com/AgainstMTS/

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Shaun Bailey’s Policies on Transport

The Conservative Party have selected Shaun Bailey as their candidate Mayor of London in 2020, when Sadiq Khan comes up for re-election. He has served on the London Assembly since May 2016, and previous to that was a youth worker and advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron. He gave a rousing speech at the recent Conservative Party conference.

But what are going to be his policies on transport? His campaign web site ( www.backbailey2020.com ) spells them out. We give a summary here. He intends to:

  • Invest in London’s transport to make sure there is more capacity and increased frequency of public transport to meet the needs of our growing city.
  • Put driverless trains on tracks – he will put driverless trains on tracks, so that hard working Londoners are no longer at the mercy of militant unions.
  • Protect the Freedom Pass – he will protect the Freedom Pass (no sensible politician would say otherwise surely).
  • He will get a grip on road maintenance, and will fight for more control over vehicle taxes to help fund the boroughs and get a grip on London’s potholes and road maintenance.
  • He will scrap the suburban driving tax, i.e. the costly expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, and use the money instead to fund a clean bus fleet, saving Londoners money and cleaning up the city’s air.

This looks a vote-winning agenda although I am not convinced that the Mayor should have control over vehicle taxes. This should be a national prerogative.

Roger Lawson

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City of London Becomes Paranoid – It’s 15MPH Everywhere

The City of London Corporation, who govern the square mile, have published their proposed Transport Strategy. It is surely one of the most paranoid attacks on all forms of transport vehicles ever proposed. It includes the following proposals:

  • A City-wide speed limit for all vehicles of 15 mph, with Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) being used in all buses and public service vehicles to enforce it.
  • Priority given to pedestrians, even over cyclists, in most of the City’s streets.
  • Encouraging the Mayor of London to implement a central London zero emission vehicle zone, or if he does not doing it themselves for the City, i.e. only electric vehicles would be permitted.
  • Reducing vehicular traffic by 25% by 2025.
  • Expanding the City’s cycle network with wider cycle lanes.

As I said in my previous report on consultation meetings for the development of the Transport Strategy: “The road network will be degraded in the alleged interests of cyclists, pedestrians and environmental dogma”. See https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/degrading-the-road-network-in-the-city-of-london/ . One of the “key themes” that the Corporations officers say came out of these events were that motor traffic levels on the City’s streets are too high. That’s not how I recall the meetings. There were more concerns expressed about dangerous cycling than road traffic. There was of course no mention of a wide-area 15 mph speed limit in any of their consultations or meetings.

Bearing in mind that the vast majority of City workers do walk to work from main line or underground stations, and that some locations are overcrowded, improvement in pedestrian facilities does make some sense. But ignoring the needs of vehicle users is wrong. Very few people drive in the City unless they need to. The City is even going to discourage taxis and PHVs and it is going to work with TfL to reduce the number of buses. Likewise there are proposals to reduce the number of service and delivery vehicles in the square mile.

The proposed 15 mph speed limit is surely not going to be complied with, and that applies to pedal cyclists as much as vehicle drivers. It is very difficult to drive a car at 15 mph or less consistently if for no other reason than vehicle speedometers are not accurate or easy to read at very low levels. The only reason it might be complied with is because of traffic congestion which reduces vehicle speeds already to below that level for much of the time. But I would also question whether such a limit is legally enforceable. Signs to indicate that limit would be required but there are no legally approved signs of that nature (only 20, 30 etc.). Driving vehicles at less than 15 mph will of course increase air pollution so it’s also contradictory to their other transport policies.

The City Corporation will be undertaking a public consultation on their Transport Strategy in November. Readers are encouraged to respond to it. You can read the draft Transport Strategy document here: http://democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk/documents/s102969/Draft%20TS%20Local%20Plan%20Sub%20091018%20combined.pdf

In the meantime, the City’s Planning and Transport Committee confirmed that the closure of Bank junction will be made permanent despite that fact that numerous vehicle drivers are clearly not aware of the restriction and collect a fine from driving through it.

Roger Lawson

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Croydon Wants Your Views

The London Borough of Croydon want your views on how they can improve transport in the borough. Croydon is now a notoriously anti-car council with the 20 mph wide area schemes that were a waste of money, and road closures outside schools that will have little benefit but generate a lot of inconvenience for residents and visitors.

Go here to complete their survey:

https://getinvolved.croydon.gov.uk/kms/elab.aspx?CampaignId=735

The deadline for comments is the 30th September so get your comments in now!

Roger Lawson

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Sadiq Khan Popularity Falling Rapidly

According to a poll commissioned by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and published a week ago, London Mayor Sadig Khan’s popularity has dropped dramatically. In March 2017, he had a net positive satisfaction rating of +35 which is quite exceptional but that has disappeared. Overall the rating is still positive, but only just. Now only 44% think he is doing well versus 40% who say he is doing badly. The Mayor’s rating is now negative among working-class Londoners, the over-50s and those in Outer London.

What is the reason for this decline? It seems likely that the ABD’s campaign on the Mayor’s Transport policies (see https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm ) is having an impact as we continue to deliver hundreds of thousands of leaflets across London. The Mayor’s policies such as the ULEZ will particularly affect those groups where his rating has been declining most sharply. Folks are waking up to the Mayor’s attack on all forms of private transport – not just cars but motorcycles, PHVs (minicabs) and taxis and the costs that they will incur as a result.

Other contributions have probably been his mismanagement of Transport for London’s budget which is heading for a massive deficit and has been focussed on by some politicians, and his record on tackling rising crime levels in London has also been criticised. Similarly, his record on housing is no better than his predecessor and very different to what he promised. His promise to freeze public transport fares and improve public transport which he made to get elected have been shown to be mistakes or unachievable. Surely the apt quotation here is “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time” (Abraham Lincoln). Voters are now becoming disillusioned with the Mayor as he is seen to be good at rhetoric and photoshoots with children but bad at actually managing the metropolis.

London needs a Mayor who does not just spout fine words, but can actually tackle London’s problems and get them solved.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Joy Morrisey has the Right Ideas

Joy Morrisey is on the Conservative short list to contest the next Mayoral election in London. She wrote an article for City AM last week (4/9/2018) that echoes much of what the ABD has been saying about transport in London.

Firstly she attacked Sadiq Khan’s record on transport and the ballooning deficit in Transport for London (TfL). She suggests it is a priority to get operating costs under control and that a fresh approach is needed. Here’s an extract of what else she had to say:

“At present, it is not always clear what the current mayor’s plans are – “plans” would suggest that real thought had gone into the mistakes he keeps making and the promises he keeps breaking. But we can see the policies: Khan is trying to force motorists off the road, while squeezing as much money as possible out of those who need to drive.

The mayor’s intention to extend the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) all the way out to the North and South Circulars in 2021 is a case in point.

Consider a family who live just outside the zone, who cannot afford to replace their old car, which they need to drive their kids to a school just inside the zone. They would pay £12.50 a day under Khan’s scheme. A pensioner who has to drive himself to, for example, Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone would pay the same.

It gets worse. The cost of the infrastructure needed to cover this expanded area has been estimated at £780m.

That’s money that should be spent on genuinely improving London’s air quality. For example, £600m would pay for the replacement of 2,000 diesel buses with hybrid vehicles, which emit nearly 80 per cent less nitrogen dioxide.

We need to make it easier for Londoners to leave their car at home, but without punishing those who do drive for making an entirely rational and reasonable choice.

If I became mayor in 2020, I would scrap Khan’s unfair and ill-considered ULEZ expansion, and focus on more effective ways to improve both air quality and transport options in the capital, for all Londoners.

Londoners cannot afford another four years of a mayor guided by cheap headlines and misplaced ideology. Right now, we might be hopelessly lost on our journey towards better transport, but under a different mayor, London can find its direction again.”

All very sensible policies and surely a good basis for an election winning campaign. Let’s hope that she wins the nomination. The other candidates are Andrew Boff and Shaun Bailey

The full City AM article can be read here: http://dev2.cityam.com/262379/london-needs-new-mayor-get-transport-show-back-road . Why not add your own comments?

Let the best man/woman win. But more than one candidate suggests the Mayor needs more powers. Surely it’s more a case of Sadiq Khan not using the powers he already has effectively to improve the transport network, control crime, build more houses and improve the environment.

Roger Lawson

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