+ indicates Comment      

Article from TNU MAY 2024

+ COMMENT: A London Mayor for the next four years

David Tarsh is the Founder and Managing Director of Tarsh Consulting, which specialises in PR and strategic partnerships; and has clients in the travel industry. He is not a member of any political party.

The population of London is 8.9m living within the Greater London Authority (GLA) area.  Assuming you are registered (which had to be done by 16 April), aged by that date 18 or over and are a British, European Union (EU) or Commonwealth citizen you can vote, and should!

The Mayor of London’s stance on travel deserves disapproval. Blind to the example set by other major centres he promises “to oppose any expansion of airports in London”.

Under him, London is the world’s most congested city, where it takes, on average, 37min 20sec for a 10km journey by road. The statistics make it clear that the increase in congestion is due almost entirely the volume of traffic on London’s roads (apart from during the pandemic).  These have been remarkably constant while average speeds have fallen year on year.

A portfolio of measures, including new 20mph speed limits, low traffic neighbourhoods, segregated cycle lanes and expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), have caused economic distress and alienated a substantial proportion of Londoners, so much so that it is a central issue in the Mayoral election.

It is not only these policies, now dubbed “the war on motorists” which are problematic, but the highly questionable claims made by the Mayor in promoting them. For example, he initially promised that he would not expand the ULEZ; but he later renegued (after the Uxbridge election defeat), claiming that his motivation was to clean London’s air. However, a report, which he commissioned from environmental experts, said that ULEZ expansion would deliver no health benefits and minuscule air quality benefits. So why did he do it? Since the ULEZ was expanded, it has generated vast sums of money in fines and charges. The new 20mph speed limits have turned perfectly safe driving into a criminal activity and traffic cameras into cash machines. This year, the Mayor will extract around £1bn from motorists and London’s councils will collect a similar sum.

Will he see sense and withdraw the 20mph Finchley Road (the main longer gateway from the north) restriction after 2 May? He cannot do it now as it would be an embarrassing turnaround at this point of time.

The Welsh government has also shot itself in the foot on travel. A new law reducing speed limits to 20mph has proved so unpopular that it has just been reversed.  Croydon has changed its rules.

Claims around the safety benefits of new cycling schemes also do not stand up to scrutiny. The new C9 bike lane is described as “safer” but the rate of cycle accidents on it in Hammersmith, have doubled and the rate of serious accidents has increased five-fold. In arguments made to build a new cycle lane through the centre of the Holland Park roundabout, Transport for London (TfL) pointed to 54 local road accidents. However, subsequent analysis revealed that only one of those was a cycle accident on the roundabout, which caused slight injury.

There are numerous other examples of highly dubious claims, eg: on road pricing. Khan says that he will not introduce it, but he has a team of around a hundred people, with a budget of c. £150m working on Project Detroit, which is constructing the systems to enable road pricing!

Recently, I was chatting with a highly successful travel entrepreneur who told me that he was emigrating from the UK to Dubai. The final straw, he declared, was the construction of a cycle track on Park Lane, the most important north-south road through the centre of London, when there was already a parallel cycle track less than 50m away in Hyde Park.

I have to be outspoken.  Ratepayers are now to suffer an 8% increase in annual payments.  TfL is pressing ahead with a scheme to rename the Overground system at a cost of £6.3m.  No suggestion to retire the Circle line name (no longer circle) and rename it the Thames line helping Londoners and more important tourists.  This simple idea was deemed too expensive.

The election for London’s Mayor takes place on 2 May. So, if like me, you want to see the end of the war on motorists, greater freedom to travel, and proper recognition of the economic benefits that flow, it is essential to remove Sadiq Khan. The best chance of doing so is by voting for the strongest challenger, who promises to get London moving again, Susan Hall.

See also TNU January ON THE SOAPBOX


Index/Home page


All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 200 words maximum

David Starkie, United Kingdom

My short Blog on the ULEZ might be of interest to readers:https://iea.org.uk/an-overlooked-side-effect-of-ulez/

Phil Fagg, Kingbury London

How many people are eligible and how many actually voted last time around please.

Jill Upton, Ealing West London

It would be interesting to find out the ratio of postal vote v those who voted via their feet. Can anyone help.

Add your comment

First Name
Email Address
Company (Not obligatory)
You must be a registered subscriber using the email address entered to submit a comment, or you will be sent a confirmation email before your comment will appear. Your comment will be checked before appearing, which may take several working hours.

Travel News Update
20 Lodge Close, Edgware HA8 4RL, United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 8952 8383 / +44 (0)7973 210631
© 2023 Travel News Update Ltd