What Has the London Mayor Got to Hide?

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?

Khan 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


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.” Evidence to the contrary illustrating the net tax paid by drivers is on

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.”
Openness and Transparency
Local government transparency code

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.
Roger Lawson is contactable on 020-8295 0378 or london@abd.org.uk

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.”
Consultation principles guidance
Consultation Principles Oct 2013

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)

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))

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”.

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 their 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

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.

Brian Mooney is contactable on 07976-414913 or brian@london-motoring.org.uk .

Diesel and Petrol Car Demonisation Scientifically Unjustifiable says ABD

Scare Stories About Emissions are a Lie

So, diesel and petrol cars will no longer be on sale after 2040, politicians have decided.

They would be well-advised to consult their electorate first.

For decades now, whenever government wants to change (and invariably increase!) vehicle taxation, scientifically unsound diesel and petrol car emission scare stories have been periodically rolled out by tax-hungry politicians; and supported by useful-idiot eco-lobbyists who simply wish to curtail freedom and personal mobility.

The true situation is that car emissions – and indeed those of all major atmospheric pollutants – have been dramatically declining for the past four-and-a-half decades: 1

GraphThere is no urban toxic vehicle emissions crisis

The main reason that we have city centre emissions hotspots is government’s own anti-car policies.

Traffic speeds have plummeted to below walking-pace (typically boosting, e,g, NOx & NO2 emissions by a factor of four times compared with free-flow levels) due to subtraction of road space to accommodate intermittently utilised bus- and cycle-lanes, traffic light phasing deliberately set to increase gating and a panoply of other ill-considered measures aimed at slowing, hindering and generally obstructing traffic flow.

All current car emissions scare-stories share a common thread: they are based on junk epidemiology studies. These seek to exaggerate any tenuous connection between (declining) urban pollution levels (or proxies for them) and predicted mortality advancements amongst a very specific target group in the general population: one subject to chronically-degraded lung-function through genetic, occupational or lifestyle choices – or combinations of all three. These studies invariably exhibit very low correlation coefficients and extremely wide levels of uncertainty / inaccuracy 2 3. Their value as predictive tools — as opposed to newspaper-selling scare-story generators — is negligible. 4

Mortality advancement episodes are invariably precipitated by two very specific weather condition scenarios: very low humidity in combination with either very high or very low temperatures. There is a much stronger correlation between mortality advancement and the frequency of such weather events than there is with urban air pollution levels.

Amid all the urban emissions hype and hysteria, the scientifically-illiterate, sensationalist media have overlooked a colossal paradox: the boroughs of Chelsea, Kensington and Westminster – which boast amongst the highest (and rising) average life expectancy (and average income) figures in the United Kingdom 5 — also have amongst the worst measured urban air pollution statistics. 6

The primary determinants of life expectancy in the UK remain income and consequent lifestyle choices. Given that UK urban air pollution has declined dramatically (and average life expectancies have steadily risen) year-on-year since the Clean Air Acts; and will continue to do so with continuing advances in technology, isn’t it time the environmental lobby and cynical, vote- / tax-rise chasing politicians laid off road users and focussed their attention elsewhere?

A recent BBC Science article reported that in Central London, only 5% of NOx comes from private diesel cars 7.
Trucks, taxis and public transport represent an even greater proportion. Public transport hubs: e.g., railway and bus stations and Thames shipping are also major contributors. However, 38% originated from commercial and domestic heating systems. Indeed, the overwhelming proportions of all the problem urban emissions: NO2, NOx, PM2.5s & PM10s arise from industry, commercial and domestic heating systems, plus “imported” emissions blown in from Europe. So unless we are prepared to adopt a BANANA strategy: Ban Anything Near Anyone Near Anywhere: stop consuming, heating our homes and workplaces, ban all industry and all travel, scientifically and economically viable alternatives must be adopted.

If politicians were really committed to improving urban air quality, they would immediately implement the five Action Points below.

  1. Most importantly of all, reverse the pernicious traffic gating-, lane-subtraction-, public transport- and cycle-prioritisation policies that have brought traffic speeds in our major cities down to a staccato mix of stationary and walking pace progress — with consequent completely avoidable adverse emissions and urban air quality effects.
  2. Invoke in the short term more targeted pursuit of the worst transport sector polluters; getting the highest emissions (mainly public transport & delivery) vehicles remediated or scrapped.
  3. Persuade heating and transport fuel manufacturers to alter their refining processes; further purifying their products, yielding cleaner-burning versions which produce lower concentrations of NO2, NOx, PM2.5s, PM10s and SOx,
  4. If, as is being constantly preached to us, the future is electric, Government must facilitate and fund the development of electric vehicles with an all-weather conditions range of between 350 and 700 miles, and a recharging time comparable to that required to refill a modern, liquid-fuelled car. Performance capabilities must also match that typically achievable by modern petrol and diesel cars.
  5. Government must also provide the infrastructure investment for all UK private dwellings to have the facility to park off-road — and recharge — at least two electric vehicles per household resident at that dwelling.

The reality is that government is only really committed to squeezing every last drop of tax revenue from road users — by fair means or (usually) foul.