An Open Letter to the Secretary of State for Transport regarding ULEZ Expansion

To: Mark Harper MP, Secretary of State for Transport

Copies: Jeremy Hunt, MP for South-West Surrey (under separate cover)

The Conservative Party (via website)

Dear Mr Harper,

When I wrote to you on 30th March this year with regard to ULEZ expansion and other anti-car policies, I made my views very clear. If you need a reminder, the letter is published here: I am disappointed that you did not instruct anyone to reply to my letter, nor to my knowledge did you make any other statement about these matters.

I feel I am probably wasting my time and energy by writing to you about this. But I am appalled by the way you and the Tory government have allowed Sadiq Khan’s expansion of the ULEZ to Outer London to go unhindered, despite the overwhelming negative effects it will have on those who will be affected.

This expansion will take away entirely the mobility of many older and poorer people in Outer London, who cannot afford either to pay the fees, or to change their cars. As well as harming or even bankrupting tradesmen who are in the same situations. It’s often not feasible for such people to use public transport; and for some, the public transport isn’t even there.

And let’s not forget history and the trends. In 2017, ULEZ was little more than a gleam in Khan’s kleptocratic eye. In 2019, it came into effect in central London only. Only the “city slickers” were affected, so why should ordinary people worry? Then in 2021, Khan extended it everywhere inside the North and South Circulars. Making inner London a “no go” area for those of us who live outside. Now in 2023, he’s extending it to all the London boroughs. If Khan is allowed to get away with this, what will stop ULEZ or similar schemes being extended to the whole of the Home Counties in 2025, every town and city in the UK in 2027, and nationwide in 2029?

That doesn’t even take into account the cameras everywhere, that are necessary to police these schemes. That is a separate issue, and perhaps an even more problematic one.

Add to this the fact that there is no rationale for the ULEZ expansion at all. There is no real air pollution problem on the roads of outer London. See this video: Khan’s “4,000 people die in London every year because of air pollution” is, at best, a fairy story. Let him show some evidence: copies of the death certificates. Even 40 of them. On top of that, even a report commissioned by Khan himself showed that ULEZ hasn’t brought any significant gains in air quality.

In any case, even from the very start, ULEZ charges were outrageously high, and never justified by the “social cost” of the pollution they would supposedly save. I was probably the first person to write about this: ULEZ has never been anything more than a money-grab.

And then there was the “judicial review” of the case brought by the five local councils. The omens were bad from the beginning, when the judge chose not to hear either of the two most important complaints brought by the councils: the failure to do a cost-benefit analysis, and the failure to do an honest consultation.

Now, what is supposed to be the purpose of a judicial review in a supposed democracy? Is it not, when the legislative and executive branches of government have screwed themselves together into a knot, to take a wider view, and work out what is best for the people whom government is supposed to serve? Should not a judicial review look at all aspects of the issue, and deliver an opinion on the best way forward for everyone?

Yet, Mr Justice Swift seems to have based his decision on small points of legality. While ignoring major questions like: “In a democracy, why should the Mayor of London have any power to tax those who live outside his area, and cannot vote him out?” As well as ignoring the fact that the case for ULEZ expansion has no objective foundation. This decision was what I call an “establishment whitewash.” All too familiar. Think Climategate.

And then there is Rishi Sunak. He said recently, according to the Daily Telegraph: “I just want to make sure people know that I’m on their side in supporting them to use their cars to do all the things that matter to them.” So, why has he not already postponed the ULEZ expansion, and ordered a proper, honest, objective review of it? If he does nothing over the next week to at least postpone the ULEZ expansion, I think he will have seriously damaged his credibility with the electorate. I think we will hear many people saying things like “Sunak is no better than Johnson.” And that will, of course, do serious damage to the electoral credibility of your party as a whole.

Again, I’m probably wasting my time writing to you on this issue. Your entire party, as well as Labour, Greens and Lib Dems, are hopelessly dishonest. You have made the Enlightenment ideal of government for the benefit of the governed into a sick joke.

But I don’t think I’m wasting my time by putting my arguments on the record, so other people can understand them.

Yours sincerely

Neil Lock


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