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.

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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.

More Pedestrian Deaths Caused By or To Cyclists

The BBC have reported the death of a 73-year-old woman on Oxford Street after she was hit by a cyclist on Tuesday the 12th September. She suffered head injuries in the collision. A man was arrested at the scene.

The BBC also noted that a 67-year-old woman died on the 9th September after she was struck by a cyclist during July’s RideLondon event. RideLondon is a charity event that attracts as many as 100,000 riders and where many roads in London and Surrey are closed to traffic – which causes enormous problems to many residents. The ABD has objected to such events in the past. However, the roads are not of course closed to pedestrians while many of the cycle riders consider it a race even those in the “non-competitive” part of the event. It is alleged some are using the Strava App to record and compare times – I have previously commented on that use by cyclists in London. In fact all riders in RideLondon get their times to complete the event reported by the organisers which no doubt encourages the competitive spirit. In practice, it means that cyclists are racing on public roads.

There was also one death amongst the riders from medical problem this year, and two deaths in the previous year.

It is surely time these events were reconsidered and the general encouragement of “furious” cycling discouraged, whether in an organised event or otherwise.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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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.

Proposal to Increase PCN Cost

Transport for London (TfL) have announced proposals to increase the cost of a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) from £130 to £160. That is the charge payable when you don’t pay the Congestion Charge (a.k.a. tax) or infringe the Red Route rules.

They claim the number of people incurring PCNs has been increasing, particularly those who are repeat offenders (64% of Congestion Charge infringers and 38% of Red Route infringers). They claim increasing the PCN cost would reduce the number by providing a stronger deterrent but provide no evidence for that claim.

It is possible that repeat offenders have increased simply because TfL do not manage to collect the PCN charge – they provide no data on this in the consultation which as usual with recent TfL consultations is very poor. It does not provide the information required to make an informed response.

One reason for the increase in Congestion Charge PCNs may simply be that people now have more difficulty in paying it since the number of payment methods have been reduced over the years since introduction, or that TfL are not promoting the need to pay as actively.

But it is wrong that the increase of 23% in the PCN cost is much higher than could be justified by general price inflation since the last increase. This just 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.

That explains why TfL collected income of £168 million from Congestion Charge infringements and £35 million in Red Route infringements last year. That’s surely enough!

The ABD has already responded to this consultation but anyone who drives in London should also do so as soon as possible. Go here for more information and a simple on-line response form you can use: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/general/penalty-charge-notices/?cid=penalty-charge . DO MAKE SURE YOU OBJECT!

Roger Lawson

How Many Deaths from Air Pollution in London?

How many deaths from air pollution in London each year? You might think that is a simple question to answer because you have seen the headlines in the media – it’s 9,416 according to a report published by Kings College which is of course a nice exact figure. The press have abbreviated it to “nearly 9,500”.

The first problem though is that 9,416 is “premature deaths”, i.e. their lives were shortened to a greater or lesser extent. There were no actual deaths directly attributed to air pollution, i.e. present on the death certificate. Even the 9,416 is not a correct figure because there are a range of “shortenings”, which may stretch from hours to years. The estimated distribution of shortenings has been converted to a single figure of deaths so that the ignorant readers of the popular press, or those reading internet blogs, might understand it.

Yes this is an exceedingly complex topic which I won’t even attempt to explain in full in this brief article. But the latest news is that even the estimates used to calculate this number are dubious to say the least. New advice from the “Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution” (COMEAP) set up by DEFRA is that the uncertainty about the evidence is growing. Although there appears to be a statistical association between air pollution factors and mortality, in the case of NO2 COMEAP have now said: “The Committee has not been able to come to a consensus view on how the epidemiological associations between NO2 and mortality can be used to either predict the benefits of interventions to improve air quality or to estimate the current mortality burden imposed on the UK population by air pollution. Some members are doubtful that the evidence is sufficient to allow a robust recommendation for quantification to be made. This is particularly the case for effects likely to be caused by NO2 itself.”

Regardless of that opinion, they still came down in support of giving specific recommendations on the likely impact of air pollutants on mortality.

Now this writer is not going to argue that cleaning up London’s air is not necessary, and it’s already happening of course. The key question, is by how much and what should be spent on doing it. What is the cost/benefit ratio of extending the ULEZ is one key point that needs to be answered.

If nobody has an accurate figure of the current disbenefits, how can we know what the benefits of cutting pollution are likely to be? Also TfL have been remarkably evasive in answering some simple questions about the costs of implementation of their proposals. They have refused to provide the data in response to an FOI request. Why are there no budgets that they are willing to disclose so we can attempt to work out the answers for ourselves.

One has to suspect that the case for really tough measures, such as effectively removing all diesel cars from London’s streets, is not as strong as it should be. When the costs imposed on car users can run into very substantial figures, we should be told the truth.

Making up policy based on guesstimates is not good enough.

Roger Lawson