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

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20 Mph Zones Are a Waste of Money, or Worse

The Sun Newspaper has reported on the success, or rather failure, of 20-mph wide area speed limits, to reduce accidents. They have obtained figures from 20 local councils using the Freedom of Information Act where £11 million of taxpayers’ cash was spent on the lower limit. But in some cases, rates of serious accidents (Killed and Serious Injuries – KSIs) have actually gone up they reported.

AA President said that the schemes were a “waste of money”, effectively implying that if the money had been spent on other road safety measures, more lives and serious accidents would have been saved.

Examples the Sun gave were Bath where £804,000 was spent but a 2016 report revealed that the KSI’s went up in 7 out of the 13 zones where speeds were cut, and in Manchester £1.7 million was spent on a heavily criticised scheme while in Hampshire other schemes showed no benefit in terms of accident reduction.

The ABD has of course reported similar problems before including in the City of London where a blanket 20 mph scheme has resulted in more minor injury reports.

20s Plenty founder Rod King called the articles “sloppy journalism” (one also appeared in the Daily Mail on the same subject). 20s Plenty has tried to debunk the reports of a number of local councils on their 20 mph schemes – for example they called the Bath report “biased, lacking in statistical rigour and not meeting several local authority duties on competency and equality”. But anyone who has surveyed all the evidence on such schemes will know that simply putting up signs typically reduces traffic speed by only 1 mph and that can have no significant impact on road casualties. In reality it seems to have the opposite effect in many cases as pedestrians no longer take so much care when crossing the road.

Rod King and 20s Plenty are like all fanatics – they ignore the negative impact of their policies and fail to see the truth. They are blinded in their zeal to reduce speed limits in the false presumption that reducing speeds are the answer to all road safety problems. But cutting road casualties is not as simple as that.

We still await a Government report on a more comprehensive study of 20 mph schemes.

In London, Transport for London (TfL) continue to finance such schemes in local boroughs and must have spent millions to date on them. Another example of unwise policies and reckless expenditure by TfL and Mayor Sadiq Khan, plus his predecessors. It is a great pity that money was not spent on road engineering to improve the safety of roads and junctions.

The Mayor actually wants to impose 20 mph speed limits on many major roads in London under his “Vision Zero” road safety plans. UKIP Transport Spokesperson Jill Seymour has challenged TfL to provide undisputed evidence of the justification for such proposals, as reported in the last national ABD Newsletter (OTR). She said “The authorities have strangled the main roads, and made them the most congested and slowest of any city in Europe. London is a mess when it comes to transport…..the London authorities, led by Sadiq Khan, appear to have a vendetta against personal transport and the car, and do everything they possibly can do to discriminate against it”. That’s definitely the truth of the matter.

Roger Lawson

Sun article here: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7253694/20-mph-zones-cause-more-deaths/

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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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Crossrail Delay and Sadiq Khan Balloon

It has been announced that the opening of Crossrail is to be delayed until Autumn 2019. It was scheduled to open in December this year. This a major blow to transport plans for London as it was intended to provide a major improvement to public transport capacity across London, and provide correspondingly large revenue increases to Transport for London (TfL).

This could blow an even bigger hole in Mayor Sadiq Khan’s transport budget which was already heading for a deficit of £1 billion pounds in the current year. Crossrail was expected to contribute substantial revenue to TfL in the next financial year but that will now be much reduced. Falling passenger numbers, particularly on buses, and Khan’s inept promise to freeze London transport fares two years ago are the main causes of his budget problems. The promise on fares was a big factor in his election.

The Conservative party have suggested that there were no delays to the ten-year Crossrail project when they ran City Hall.

Mr Khan has also been under attack for his failure to tackle knife crime in London. The latest symptom of this was the launch of a balloon showing Khan in a bikini which emulated the one flown of Donald Trump in Parliament Square. Many people complained that Khan should not have given permission for that as there should have been respect for a foreign head of state and that dabbling in the affairs of other countries was not the role of the Mayor of London.

The latest balloon seems to also be a complaint about other aspects of Khan’s regime and his record on free speech. The organiser was Yanny Bruere who raised £60,000 in a crowdfunding campaign and apparently intends to continue to promote that Khan should be removed. See https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/giant-sadiq-khan-baby-balloon-to-fly-over-london for more information or if you wish to comment.

Note that the ABD has been very critical of Khan’s policies and in particular his “Mayor’s Transport Strategy” – see our campaign on that here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm

It is undoubtedly the case that the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and his tax raising ULEZ proposals will not be changed unless he is removed from office by the electorate so supporting this initiative is surely worthwhile. Ridicule is a good a way as any of getting the message across that many people think Sadiq Kahn has demonstrated that he is the worst Mayor of London that we have yet had – and his predecessors were pretty poor. From car-hating Ken Livingstone to cycling fanatic Boris Johnson, none have shown much wisdom.

Directly elected Mayors in London have proved to be very dubious and the extent of their powers means that they have dictatorial control in effect. They are also impossible to remove. The current Mayor even wants to extend his powers over vehicle taxation, the surface rail network and in the planning area. Surely time to reconsider the governance structure in London and for the Government to take more direct control. Mrs Thatcher went so far as to abolish the previous left-wing dominated Greater London Council (GLC) in 1986. That got rid of Ken Livingstone but only temporarily. We now have another populist Mayor in Sadiq Khan who makes promises he cannot keep to win elections – just like Livingstone did. Perhaps you will recall the promise he made to solve traffic congestion with a “Congestion Charge” which naturally did not work. We get similar “gestures” from Sadiq Khan such as the ULEZ proposals which will not cure London’s air pollution problems but will impose very major costs on Londoners.

Time for central Government to intervene and ensure that whoever runs London is more representative of the overall electorate in the metropolis. No more dictators please. And time for Sadiq Khan to go!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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20 Mph Speed Limit on Major London Roads

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced measures to improve road safety in London including a 20-mph speed limit on all major roads within the Congestion Charge zone. That will include such major arteries as the Embankment and Upper/Lower Thames Street. In addition he will be encouraging local London boroughs to introduce the same limit on TfL controlled roads in 32 town centres.

He is also proposing to improve 73 junctions which have been identified as those with the worse road safety record. These proposals are part of the Mayor’s “Vision Zero” policy which attempts to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on the roads.

Comment: ABD Campaign Director Roger Lawson had these comments on the proposals:

The Mayor trots out those old misleading claims that reducing speed limits will remove almost all fatal and serious accidents. This is simply not borne out by the facts. For example, the City of London Corporation that covers the square mile introduced a blanket 20-mph speed limit in 2014. It had negligible impact on overall casualty figures, minor injuries actually increased and there were 2 fatalities in that area in 2016 – see references below. The results of signed-only 20 mph schemes have been very mixed and a Government report on the subject is still awaited.

Although the “Vision Zero” concept might make for good media coverage it does not necessarily help if ill-informed road safety policies are introduced. The reduction in speed limits will slow traffic causing additional costs in increased journey times and the police will no doubt be vigorously enforcing these new limits.

Many people will say that with average London traffic speed now nearer 10 mph than 20 mph, it may not make much difference. But that is not always the case. For example, outside rush hour times traffic moves much faster than 20 mph on many parts of the TfL road network (the “red routes”). This just looks like another attempt by the Mayor to remove all vehicles from the streets of London so as to achieve his vision of almost no private vehicle use (including cars, LGVs, taxis and PHVs) as spelled out in his Mayor’s Transport Strategy.

The only sensible part of his proposal is to improve junctions where there is a known poor accident record. Otherwise this latest move to slow traffic in London is another nail in the coffin of an efficient road transport network for our capital city. Sadiq Khan is surely the most incompetent London Mayor we have yet had.

Those who oppose this proposal should contact their Greater London Assembly Member (see: https://www.london.gov.uk/people/assembly ) or write to the Mayor himself: https://www.london.gov.uk/contact-us-form .

Roger Lawson

Notes:

The Mayor of London’s Press Release is given here: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/boldest-ever-plan-to-eliminate-deaths-on-the-roads

Report on the City of London 20-mph scheme: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/city-of-london-20-mph-scheme-first-results/

TfL Road Casualties in 2016: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/casualties-in-greater-london-2016.pdf

The Mayor’s Transport Strategy and the ABD’s comments on it: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm

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Changes to Congestion Charge – PHVs Targeted To Raise Money

The Mayor of London and TfL have announced proposals to change the Congestion Charge (a.k.a. Tax) so as to raise more money. The main change is that PHVs (minicabs) will no longer be exempt from paying this tax. Uber and other drivers will no doubt be up in arms about this and it will mean their clients pay a lot more.

Another change is that the Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) which currently applies to vehicles that emit less than 75g/km of CO2 will need to have zero emission capability by 2019 and by 2021 only electric vehicles will qualify. That means that many of the 20,000 vehicles currently registered for the ULED will need to be changed if the owners wish to continue to qualify for the discount.

A Blatant Lie

What’s the justification for these changes? The consultation announcement says that the Congestion Charge “was a huge success”. It claims a reduction in traffic and a 30% reduction in congestion as well as improvements in air quality since it was introduced. These claims are simply spurious. There was a short-term reduction in some vehicles entering the central zone, but the numbers of taxis, PHVs and buses increased. The result was that congestion soon returned to what it was before the tax was introduced and has since got substantially worse. Neither was there any improvement in air pollution which was never expected to happen and did not. See this web page for the facts: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/congestion.htm

The claims made by TfL are downright lies. But traffic delays have been increasing which is the justification put forward by TfL for the proposed changes.

Why Should Taxis Be Exempt?

One controversial aspect of the original scheme was that registered taxis (black cabs) and PHVs (private hire vehicles) were exempt from the congestion tax. It was never very clear as to why some vehicles should be exempt while others are not. Why should private car occupants pay the charge while people using other vehicles for similar journeys should not? Even more puzzling is why PHVs are now proposed to be taxed while taxis are not. What is the logic of this? Note that the increase in PHVs due to the popularity of services such as Uber has led to many more vehicles entering central London of late and hence have contributed to congestion significantly in the last couple of years. But will the tax now proposed actually reduce their numbers? That is surely unlikely for the same reason that the congestion charge scheme did not reduce congestion. The unsatisfied public demand is such as to soon soak up the capacity released by people unwilling to pay the tax. You cannot solve congestion via taxation!

It’s About Money

The conclusion must be that these proposals are more about raising money for the Budget of Mayor Sadiq Khan. He desperately needs it. See previous blog posts for coverage of that topic.

A Timely Announcement

One might ask why the Mayor chose to announce these changes on a Friday lunchtime when the news channels will be dominated by the Brexit decisions and the England World Cup match for the next 48 hours. This might enable him to escape the opprobrium of PHV drivers for a few hours but not much longer I suggest.

More Information

See this web page for more information and to respond to an on-line consultation: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/policy/private-hire-charge-exemption/?cid=ccyourviews

You may also wish to tell us how the ABD should respond to the consultation as we will certainly be doing so.

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The Cost of Khan

Gareth Bacon, leader of the GLA Conservatives, has published a very interesting document entitled “The Cost of Khan”. It supplies a half-term report on the regime of Mayor Sadiq Khan and the negative impact he has had in certain areas (crime, planning, parking, housebuilding for example). In essence he suggests one of the key problems is financial mismanagement.

Of particular interest to our readers will be his comments on the activities of TfL (Transport for London) and the budget for that organisation. It covers:

  • Cancellation of new tube trains for the Jubilee and Northern Lines that would have provided much needed extra capacity. That might have saved £600 from the TfL budget but that’s desperately needed after Khan’s expensive promise to freeze public transport fares which cost at least £640 million in foregone revenue. Even that promise was only partly kept.
  • The pay of executive staff in TfL. The number who are paid more than £100,000 p.a. increased by 25% last year so there were 576 such employees. Is the Mayor really cutting the flab out of TfL budgets as he promised to do?
  •  The “T-Charge” which was introduced last October and will cost Londoners £23 million a year despite the Mayor’s own Impact Assessment saying it will have only a negligible impact on pollution (and that has been borne out by real data since).
  •  Nominee passes which you may not be aware of are highlighted. These allow TfL employees to nominate family members and anyone who resides in the same household to obtain free travel. Even flatmates qualify! There are 39,884 people who are nominees and the cost might be equivalent to £32 million in lost revenue per year.

Those and other reports show how the Mayor has been so wasteful of financial resources with the result that he is desperate to raise money from the T-Charge and the ULEZ charge which will impose major unnecessary costs on Londoners. In the personal view of this writer TfL continues to be a massive and very expensive bureaucracy which is unaccountable to the public. It formulates transport policy that will increase the bureaucracy and then does public consultations designed to get the right answers. TfL needs major reform but the Mayor does not seem to have it under control.

The “Cost of Khan” Report is present here: https://www.glaconservatives.co.uk/uploads/1/1/7/8/117899427/final_cost_of_khan__2_.pdf

Roger Lawson

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