AN extortionate weekly charge of £62.50 to take the children to school. That is the reality faced by millions of Londoners from August when Mayor Sadiq Khan expands the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) to all 32 boroughs. This hits hard-working families whose only fault is being unable to afford a newer car which would pass Euro 4 standard for diesel engines or Euro 6 for petrol.
London is in a state of disharmony. The ULEZ extension is no shock in the tightly-packed inner boroughs, where the tariff was introduced earlier. In Zones 1 and 2, only the rich have the means to run a car; for the poor the insurance is punitive and there is nowhere to park. However the inner-city public transport system is so comprehensive that nobody needs to drive anyway. People in Camden, for example, already live in the technocrats’ dream of a 15-minute city: all amenities exist within a short walk, cycle or bus journey.
A petition on the government and website to stop ULEZ, which has produced almost 30,000 signatures at time of writing, shows a stark contrast. Click on the map showing the location of signatories and you’ll see a doughnut. The hole in the middle is the same pale yellow as the rest of the country beyond London, where few have signed. But there is a thick dark red circle where the petitioners are many.
Areas retaining a traditional white population, with a preponderance of lower middle-class strivers, stand out on the map. These are the parliamentary constituencies of Carshalton & Wallington and Sutton & Cheam on the southern edge; Old Bexley & Sidcup and Orpington on the Kent border; Hornchurch & Upminster, Romford and Barking to the east, and Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner on the north-west.
Used as a cash cow for ideological policies and leftist largesse, with ever-rising council tax surcharges, the most that suburban dwellers can get from City Hall is their council being chosen for a year of ‘culture’, which means arts and events pushing critical race theory, sanctification of refugees and gender ideology, as TCW’s Robert James described here. Socially, economically and politically the outer boroughs see the world very differently from statist, progressively-minded inner London. A blue circle with a red centre – although the small ‘c’ conservatives are moving further out; it seems incredible nowadays that areas such as Lewisham had a Tory MP in the recent past.
In my PhD research on mental health services for older people in London, I discovered that Lambeth, despite having only a small elderly population, received nearly double the funding of the borough with the highest number of old folk (Bromley). This blatant bias by the authorities presumes that Asian or black people with dementia deserve more resources than those in distant suburbs.
Across the vast area of Bromley, reaching into Kentish countryside, older people need their cars, as do parents on the school run (particularly when they cannot get children into the nearest school, mainly due to mass immigration). Public transport is patchy. Don’t motorists already pay enough in taxes and other costs?
Some councils are resisting. Sutton, an ecologically-minded Liberal Democrat administration driven by public pressure rather than its political principles, refused to install the cameras for number-plate recognition, thereby obstructing the £12.50 daily charge and fines for late payment. Mayor Khan was furious and threatened to fix the cameras regardless of local opinion. Then Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon mounted a legal challenge to stop the scheme. Khan accuses these councils of putting hundreds of lives at risk from pollution, based on modelling data from Imperial College.
Perhaps it is time for divorce. Greater London was formed in 1965, replacing the London County Council. The expanded metropolis took Sutton, Croydon and Kingston from Surrey; Bromley and Bexley from Kent; Dagenham, Barking and Ilford from Essex; and the whole of Middlesex was eradicated. But it has never been a happy marriage. ULEZ should be the last straw.