Mayor’s proposal criticised as an ‘attempt to price people off the road network’

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Two of the UK’s largest business associations have spoken out against a proposal announced by the Mayor of London for a road user charge scheme and further ULEZ boundary expansion.

‘Misleading’ claims

In reaction to the announcement, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said: 

“London Mayor Sadiq Khan issued a press release on January 18, 2022, outlining a range of actions to charge drivers in London for using the city’s road network.

“We see the move as an attempt by TfL and the Mayor to price people off the road network – a tactic that regressively attacks those who have to use vehicles for work or essential mobility.

“The Mayor has highlighted an internal report as justification for a range of charges he wants to introduce. We believe the report will be used to justify asking the Government for more money – and to tax the road users of London.

“The Mayor’s own press release makes claims that are misleading. A key point made by the Mayor is that: “The capital has seen a shift to driving during the pandemic…” but TfL’s most recent “Travel in London” report shows that is wrong, car driver and passenger trips in London actually fell by 15.4%.

“Additionally, the claim car use needs to fall by 27% is a new target, created in the report rather an existing goal.”

 

Road ‘miss-management’

Duncan Buchanan, RHA Policy Director, England and Wales, said: “So why are we concerned about these anti-car measures proposed by the Mayor? It is because it is part of the long-term pattern of road miss-management in London that has deliberately created more and more congestion and has reduced the resilience of our roads to the point where commercial road activity is being damaged. Trips are getting longer, more expensive, and less reliable.

“Worse, the Mayor, TfL and London local authorities are blind to the city’s need for commercial transport. Coaches, vans, and lorries do not work in London for fun, they work in London to provide people and business with services and goods they need. Adding time and cost to commercial road transport makes London less competitive and more expensive.”

 

‘Cynically misusing green issues’

The RHA spokesperson continued: “The use of selective and fantasy numbers, misinformation and the ignoring of reality shows how disconnected Sadiq Khan and Transport for London are from the reality for most road users. The Mayor is cynically misusing green issues as a cover to tax and punish road users instead of managing road properly to minimise congestion and pollution.

“We believe there needs to be a national debate about the positive value of mobility – the green agenda too often is dismissive or ignorant of the critical need for transport. Freight transport in all forms, buses and coaches need road networks that facilitate mobility, not networks that prevent efficient clean use.

“We will be doing a fuller assessment of the Mayor’s proposals and the “Analysis of a Net Zero 2030 Target for Greater London” report.”

 

New measures ‘must be proportionate’

Logistics UK's Head of Policy - South, Natalie Chapman, commented:

“Logistics UK fully supports the Mayor of London's environmental aims and the need to take action on air quality. The sector has already made huge strides towards a Net Zero future, with 70% of HGVs currently meeting Euro 6. 

“This announcement raises concerns regarding potential additional costs to logistics businesses that are already facing recent increased charges as a result of the higher congestion charge and higher Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) costs recently introduced on London’s red routes. 

“A Greater London boundary charge and further clean air charges – as proposed in the announcement – will place additional stress on industry, which already operates on small margins of between one and three per cent. 

“Logistics UK is keen to see greater detail on the consultation proposals; any new measures introduced must be proportionate, achievable and ensure that logistics businesses can continue to deliver for the capital, its residents and its workforce.”