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Mayor Khan Extends ‘Congestion Tax’ To London’s Outer Boroughs In Money-Making Ruse

Khan

If ever there was any doubt that London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s green crusade is little more than a load of hot air, how about this: during a six-year stint in City Hall, characterized by constant lecturing of Londoners about the need to go green, Khan and his team have racked up more than 360,000 air miles on jet-setting official trips, according to analysis from The Sun newspaper.

That’s enough to fly around the world 14 times, or travel to the moon and around it 18 times, while belching out nearly 200 tonnes of carbon.

Khan’s foreign escapades even include a recent 14,000-mile round trip to Buenos Aires, accompanied by five members of staff, to address a climate change summit touted as a “hybrid in-person and virtual event”. [emphasis, links added]

It is estimated that the journey produced roughly three tons of carbon dioxide per passenger – more than the average car produces in an entire year in Britain.

No wonder, then, that Londoners are foaming with rage at the latest salvo from Khan in his kamikaze war on motoristsan expansion of the £12.50-a-day ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) charge to outer London boroughs.

It’s not just the rank double standards that stick in the craw, however. It’s that the mayor’s crusade is short-sighted, terribly misguided, and horrendously ill-timed.

There is also a sneaking suspicion that climate change is something of a red herring when really it’s all just a big money-making ruse to prop up Transport for London, left bankrupt on Khan’s watch.

When it comes to reducing the number of car journeys taken in the capital, Khan has long favored the stick over the carrot – with decidedly unconvincing results, too.

During the pandemic, the mayor introduced a series of supposedly “temporary” changes to the hated Congestion Charge in a bid to “ensure the capital’s recovery from the pandemic is not restricted by cars and congestion”, but like most temporary taxes it has proven to be a largely permanent measure.

Though the charge was returned to its pre-pandemic weekday hours of 7 am-6 pm, motorists still have to pay £15 ($18), as opposed to the pre-Covid price of £11.50 ($13.80), and it continues to be enforced at weekends.

The decision to retain the £15 C-charge was taken on the basis that it should result in a risible 4pc reduction in car mileage in the zone and despite evidence showing that its effectiveness has been extremely mixed.

Although the number of private cars fell after the introduction of the charge nearly 20 years ago, they have simply been replaced by other vehicles such as Uber cars and Amazon delivery vans, in a city where road space has shrunk as a result of major construction work and Khan’s obsession with building new bicycle highways.

The mayor’s introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods across the capital has proven similarly divisive, with equally inconclusive results.

Though proponents of LTNs believe that they can be useful in tackling climate change, reducing car usage, and increasing the number of cyclists, they too have come with unforeseen consequences.

In the 10 inner London boroughs that introduced LTNs or equivalent schemes during the pandemic, increases in car use have been greater than in boroughs that did not, according to figures from the Department for Transport.

But an extension of the Ulez threatens to be the most draconian and damaging yet. A daily £12.50 charge ($15) is little more than a tax on the poorest of society because it penalizes those who cannot afford to upgrade to a newer, cleaner model that escapes the levy.

And for anyone who drives into the zone regularly, the cost would add up to a staggering £3,200 annually, at a time when many families are already reeling from spiraling mortgage, energy, food, and fuel bills.

To say that many households won’t be able to afford the charges is an understatement. Yet the majority of those that will be hit by the scheme will be police officers, firefighters, and NHS staff, trying to get to work, as well as an army of tradesmen for whom public transport is simply not an option.

Khan has said his campaign is driven by the belief that the Government has a responsibility to build “a greener country” in the shadow of Covid-19. That’s perfectly reasonable – who wouldn’t want our children to breathe cleaner air or the environmental benefits that come with it?

But asking hardworking families to carry the bulk of the financial burden – in the eye of a cost of living storm, too – is an unforgivable act of fiscal recklessness, bordering on class warfare.

What’s more, it appears to be based on the flawed assumption that driving is somehow a luxury for most people.

For many of those living in outer London, it is a necessity, whether for getting around or for work. Estimates put the proportion of those in the capital that rely on their cars for work and travel at around 30pc.

The revelation that Khan plowed ahead with the expansion of Ulez despite 60pc of respondents to a public consultation opposing it will do little to quell concerns about a hidden agenda.

In outer London, 70pc of the residents were against the idea and 80pc of the workers were opposed.

Ditto his backing for a “Singapore-style” network of toll roads that campaigners say will mean electric vehicles are taxed just as heavily as petrol and diesel ones.

It is further proof – if any were needed – that Khan is waging an ideological war on cars.

Read more at Telegraph

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