There is an opportunity, this week, to stop the ULEZ expansion to outer London. On Thursday 17th November your London Assembly members will have a vote on ULEZ.
The reason for this is that the mayor and TfL are required to alter their transport strategy, or MTS. In order to expand the ULEZ zone the London Assembly needs to allow the MTS to be altered. At a meeting on Thursday, AMs can vote to stop the MTS being altered and hence stop the ULEZ in its tracks. So, the simple message is this – if you do not want the ULEZ to expand, contact your London Assembly Member and tell them to vote against the MTS.
If Sadiq Khan wins this vote on Thursday, he will have total power to implement ULEZ and expand road-user charging. To win the vote against expansion, two thirds of the Assembly Members must vote against it which means it needs cross-party support. We urge Labour members to do the right thing and vote for their constituents and not simply protect their mayor.
Write to your Assembly Member now and help stop this tax on the very poorest Londoners.
Some context, and this is the long bit...
The new ULEZ will take the existing zone from its current boundary of the North and South Circular and expand it to cover all the London Boroughs. Sadiq Khan argues that the purpose of the expansion is to create cleaner air and has nothing to do with creating revenue for TfL. Indeed, he often repeats the line that poorest in London do not own cars and even states that half of Londoners don’t own one.
I challenged him on this assertion at a Mayor’s Question Time (MQT) using official figures on car ownership and was met with an aggressive response:
My colleague Neil Garratt, the Assembly Member for Croydon & Sutton also did some digging. In another meeting, when one of the Deputy Mayors repeated the mayor’s line, Neil highlighted the figures he’d obtained from the Office of National Statistics:
GLA Conservatives on Twitter: "FACT CHECK: Sadiq Khan and his team believe people on lower incomes don’t own cars. This is false. And @NeilGarratt has the data to prove it. The truth is: Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion would hurt the poorest during a cost of living crisis. https://t.co/7YVFTKPuKR" / Twitter
Sadiq Khan’s assertions that only half of Londoners own cars did not take into account the disproportionate number of people who own cars in outer London. His view that the poorest in London do not own cars was also proved to be either disingenuous or he considered the level of ‘poor’ to be very low indeed.
The mayor’s main claim is that the expansion will improve air quality. The problem with that is that the Independent Impact Assessment which was released alongside the consultation said there would be little improvement to air quality due to any expansion. In fact, it says the only real significant damage will be financial and will hit the poorest the hardest.
As, once again, Neil points out here:
Amazingly the mayor refuses to recognise the figures – the figures released alongside his consultation!
The consultation itself also caused some concern. As a result of whistle-blowers at TfL, the Telegraph uncovered a story which seems to suggest some of the consultation results, notably those opposed to ULEZ, had been removed from the final result:
So, there seems to be limited evidence of environmental improvement yet huge evidence of potential financial damage. Let’s remember, the cost of £12.50 a day will hit the poorest the hardest. It would mean huge costs for many teachers driving in to teach in outer London Boroughs; the elderly taking occasional trips to hospitals and our emergency service workers being hit with an additional charge right when life is becoming more expensive. Not to mention those charities and small businesses who operate so close to the margin and cannot afford to exchange their older, but perfectly sound, vehicles for new ones. This is a view support by the Federation of Small Businesses:
There is concern that part of the expansion is to fund a future per-mile-road-user-charging model. Now, I think there is an objective argument for this. It is certainly worth a national debate and one which considers a reduction in tax burdens elsewhere, such as fuel duty. But a stealth per-mile-user-charging model implemented unilaterally by a mayor that doesn’t have the mandate to do it is a concern. A model where we have limited detail about how our data will be used and stored. Do we really want TfL following our every move? How will our privacy be protected? Who could access or use that data? We don’t know. But if the MTS passes the mayor can implement such a model without another vote.
Do we have any evidence that this is in the pipeline? Yes, we do. At a question-and-answer session with TfL we heard that not only is it being considered, but they have already started recruiting engineers to build it:
Neil Garratt AM on Twitter: "It's an open secret in City Hall that the Mayor already has people working on "road user charging", ie charging every car every time it moves, anywhere in London. And we learned on Thursday that they're now hiring "significant numbers" of engineers to ramp up that work. Watch: https://t.co/GThqZriBox" / Twitter
It seems that the ULEZ expansion is therefore vital for the mayor’s plans to increase revenue for TfL. However, in the most recent exchange with me, Neil and our colleague Nick Rogers (Assembly Member for South West), the mayor seems to suggest that, at no point during the entire ULEZ consultation, did anybody speak to him about anything to do with the results. He suggests, and this is incredible, that he hadn’t seen any of the results and had never even asked how it was going.....
It has been an extraordinary year trying to get to the bottom of this process. The claims that the poorest will not suffer and that there is overwhelming environmental impact have not been proved.
This expansion does not do what the mayor says it does. It hits the poorest the hardest and does not create the benefits he suggests. We believe that the hundreds of millions of pounds could be spent better elsewhere:
I'll close with two final comments. First off, once again, from Neil Garratt, who explains this is; ‘..the wrong policy in pursuit of the right objective.’
GLA Conservatives on Twitter: "Fact: Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion will have a negligible effect on air quality, as @NeilGarratt explains. It is no surprise that 66% voted against it in the official consultation. It would have a devastating impact on poorest. It must be scrapped. https://t.co/5bVxJj8mNd" / Twitter
Finally, and most importantly, this teacher from North London who explains the impact ULEZ will have on her:
GLA Conservatives on Twitter: "👇 Everyone in London needs to see this video. This teacher confronted Sadiq Khan with the devastating cost of living impact his ULEZ expansion will have on her and many others. Retweet if you think the Mayor should listen to her. https://t.co/wJDxAW4KRI" / Twitter
Write to your Assembly Member now and get them to stop the ULEZ expansion.