Sadiq Khan is facing growing fury over his ‘out of touch’ assault on motorists today with warnings he will turn London into a haven for rich people who work from home.
Maps have laid bare the extent of the mayor’s overhaul of the road network in the capital, with far more 20mph zones planned alongside the massive expansion of the ULEZ.
But there are signs of mounting unrest among Labour MPs at shifting the boundary of the low emission zone to outer London – dragging millions more into its orbit in a bid to cut air pollution.
Meanwhile, Tories have railed at ‘ideological’ measures, questioning the concept of 15-minute neighbourhoods, and insisting residents are becoming ‘frustrated’ at constant roadworks. MPs argue that the mayor’s proposals are geared towards ‘people who either work from home and don’t have to go anywhere, or if they do have to go anywhere can afford an Uber or a cab’.
Some have claimed that the moves will merely displace polluting traffic and create more pinch-points on the edges of restrictions, while those who have to travel will pay the price. After the congestion charge was introduced there was evidence that nitrogen dioxide levels actually increased due to increase bus and taxi use – although more electric vehicles have been introduced since then.
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Mr Khan has flatly denied he is waging war on motorists, pointing out that half of Londoners don’t own a car and he has a duty to tackle ‘poisonous air’.
Transport for London (TfL) confirmed yesterday it is pushing ahead with plans to reduce the speed limits on 137 miles of roads by next year – saying evidence showed it would save lives.
The ULEZ is expanding to all outer London boroughs from August, but looks to be causing increasing nerves among Mr Khan’s own side
This TFL map shows the proposed speed limits on London’s roads
Then and now: These TFL maps show the 20mph zones in London (left), compared to last year (right). Green depicts 20mph roads
Sadiq Khan is facing growing fury over his ‘out of touch’ assault on motorists today with warnings he will turn London into a haven for rich people who work from home
The body is responsible for London’s strategic road network, which makes up around 5 per cent of London’s 9,190-mile network, but carries 30 per cent of the traffic.
Currently, 68 miles of TfL roads have 20mph speed limits, including everywhere inside the congestion charge area.
Most changes will be from 30mph to 20mph, but there will also be cuts from 40mph to 30mph.
It said a study of zones before and after they had 20mph limits found fatal collisions fell by 25 per cent.
The ULEZ is expanding to all outer London boroughs from August, but looks to be causing increasing nerves among Mr Khan’s own side.
Four London Labour MPs broke cover on LBC today, with shadow Treasury minister Abena Oppong-Asare saying: ‘My concern is we don’t want to be in a situation where people are going to be worse off.’
Fellow frontbencher Seema Malhotra said: ‘Whilst I share the goal of reducing pollution and increasing air quality, I am very concerned about the economic impact the current roll-out plans will have on residents and small businesses.’
The Feltham and Heston MP warned the plans will have a ‘disproportionate effect on lower income families and the self-employed who use their vehicle for work’.
Jon Cruddas, MP for Barking and Dagenham, said he was ‘deeply disappointed’ about the policy and his representations had ‘fallen on deaf ears’.
‘Dagenham and Rainham is home to many low-income workers who rely on their personal vehicles,’ he said.
Long-serving Labour MP for Mitcham & Morden Siobhain McDonagh also reportedly expressed doubts about the scheme.
Former minister Bob Neill told MailOnline: ‘I think the penny is dropping how out of touch he is with outer London seats.
‘I think they are starting to feel the heat.
This Google traffic map shows the typical traffic at 8.15am on a Tuesday morning – with amber representing heavy tailbacks and dark red depicting stationary traffic
‘It’s a sign that the message is getting through even to Labour MPs: this is just an attack on outer London.’
Bromley & Chiselhurst MP Sir Bob said Mr Khan’s policies were focused on ‘people who either work from home and don’t have to go anywhere, or if they do have to go anywhere can afford an Uber or a cab’.
‘It shows how totally out of touch he is with ordinary working people in London.’
‘It is just this very aggressive anti-motorist stance. We all recognise there are some areas where 20mph is appropriate, because it’s near a school or a care home or something like that.
‘But what we’re really trying to move to is a blanket 20mph by default. In parts of outer London that is simply not appropriate.
‘It’s ideology getting in the way of common sense.’
He warned that the capital’s policies were likely to spread to other parts of the country. ‘If they can get away with it in London, London is being used by some on the left as a test bed.’
Sir Bob said: ‘What’s significant is that Starmer has not been coming out condemning it… they are happy to let Sadiq get on with it whatever the cost to ordinary Londoners.’
Sir Bob said he was hearing complaints about temporary traffic lights and roadworks. ‘A lot of people are getting very frustrated. It all seems to be part of an agenda to make life more and more difficult for motorists,’ he said.
‘What works in outer London is completely different from what works in inner London. And even in inner London there are a lot of people who are not well-heeled, they need to get about to do jobs quite often at anti-social hours.
‘We had a daft suggestion from one Labour person that workmen could take their tools on the Tube.
‘If you’re doing building jobs it is ridiculous. This is all the stuff of people who have never done those sort of jobs in their lives.’
Louie French, Tory MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup, tweeted: ‘Be in no doubt, public outrage and people power is now forcing Labour MPs to come out against Sadiq Khan’s #ULEZ tax raid on drivers in outer London.’
Tory former leader Iain Duncan Smith told MailOnline: ‘More and more councils, Labour included understand the the ULEZ expansion to all of London is a fraud… it will have no real effect on air quality.
Tories said they were hearing complaints about temporary traffic lights and roadworks
‘It will cause financial hardship. It is a tax hike pure and simple to bail him out.’
Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond told MailOnline: ‘Khan is yet again ignoring what Londoners have said and want.
‘The ULEZ expansion is being rushed and will hurt many lower income Londoners.
‘Khan’s tax will force some people out of work. London needs a properly thought out air quality scheme not this botch job.’
But a source close to Mr Khan said: ‘The Mayor has been clear the decision to expand ULEZ was not an easy one, but necessary to protect the health of Londoners and tackle the climate emergency. Health experts agree toxic air is a public health crisis. Polluted air is stunting the lungs of children, leading to life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, dementia and asthma, and resulting in around 4,000 Londoners dying prematurely every year.
‘Over four fifths of vehicles in outer-London are already ULEZ-compliant. You can check your vehicle on TfL’s vehicle checker. However, the Mayor recognises that some people will need support moving to cleaner vehicles. That’s why he has invested £110m in the UK’s vehicle scrappage scheme to support lower-income Londoners and small businesses.
‘Tackling the climate crisis is the defining issue of our times and cleaning up London’s air is central to that. The Mayor urges all politicians to prioritise the health of Londoners and the lives of future generations over short-term politics, and to avoid joining the ranks of the climate action delayers. We need to take action if we are to build a fairer, greener future.’
Mr Khan mounted a staunch defence in an open letter to critics this week, saying toxic air led to the premature deaths of 4,000 Londoners each year.
He said: ‘Research by Imperial College London shows Bromley has the highest premature deaths linked to air pollution with an estimated 204 lives lost in 2019.’
But Bromley Council leader Colin Smith said the study commissioned by City Hall ‘chose to ignore Bromley’s much older population profile’.
He said many elderly residents spent ‘their younger years in inner London experiencing the smogs and smoke-filled pubs of yesteryear’. He added: ‘It is complete nonsense.’
A spokeswoman for the Mayor of London said: ‘These councils are denying the science in order to justify their opposition to clean air policies.
‘The air quality data used by City Hall is completely robust and is based on the most accurate scientific investigation into the human cost of poor air from globally renowned experts at Imperial College London.’
In July 2020 Mr Khan was asked at City Hall what he was doing to make progress on 15-minute neightbourhoods – a concept where residents can live, work and access services within an easy walk of their home.
‘Londoners are spending more time closer to home. They want their neighbourhoods to be welcoming, healthy and sustainable, not clogged up with traffic and pollution,’ he said.
‘London’s recovery must be an inclusive green recovery that enables all Londoners to walk and cycle around greener neighbourhoods and support their local high streets.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk