Sunday, 16 June 2024

ULEZ: A War On Drivers & A Form Of Stealth Tax?

A map – from Transport for London (TfL) – showing the extent of London’s ULEZ zone. In three weeks, it’ll be extended to take in all of Outer London. Is it any wonder that many people believe that Ulez is simply cover for a war on drivers & another form of stealth tax?

LONDON’S HARD-PRESSED motorists hate Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emission Zone) scheme with a passion.  

Khan – who has been the Labour Mayor of London since 2016 – introduced ULEZ over four years ago on 8th April 2019.  Prior to that, he’d introduced an emissions surcharge, called the Toxicity Charge (sometimes known as the T-Charge) in 2017.  

Under both schemes, an emissions standard based charge has been levied on what are termed non-compliant vehicles.   

Initially the scheme covered inner London boroughs.  The ULEZ zone was later extended to cover the area within the North Circular and South Circular roads.  Now Khan wants to extend the scheme – to include outer London boroughs – towards the end of this month.  

It’s thought that car use is higher in outer London boroughs.  This is due to fewer public transport links.  Here ULEZ could become a cash cow for Khan when it’s introduced on 29th August.  However, many believe that it could really impact on both businesses & households who’re still struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.  

ULEZ operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  However, Khan can’t be accused of being the Grinch as vehicles are exempt on Christmas Day!  

Vehicles which do not meet emissions standards incur a daily charge of £12.50.  And the fine for failing to pay is £180.  

Those who scrap their cars in order to buy a ‘compliant’ vehicle can access up to £2,000 from a scrappage scheme.  Whilst this is welcome, these days it’ll hardly make much of a dent in the price of a brand-new car.  No wonder many people believe that ULEZ is simply cover for a war on drivers (and another form of stealth tax).   

Khan insists that the limitations on vehicle emissions reduces pollution.  However, we’ve never seen any statistics – relating to London’s pollution levels – on which the restrictions are based.  Neither have we seen statistics relating to pollution levels prior to & after the charges were introduced.  Indeed, how many Londoners have died solely from vehicle-related pollution?    

With the above in mind, we’d be interested to know who produced the statistics & if they were peer reviewed.  Additionally – and especially in the light of Covid – we’d be particularly interested to know if there’s the slightest whiff of a conflict of interests between the different parties involved.  

We mentioned earlier that many people believe that ULEZ is simply cover for a war on drivers (and a form of stealth tax).   

We have some sympathy with this point of view.  Many people simply have to have a car for family and/or work reasons.  Self-employed workers who need various tools to work are an obvious example.   

Individual drivers are not responsible for the fumes that their vehicles emit.  That’s down to the car manufacturers.  But Sadiq Khan is on the Blairite ‘social democratic’ wing of the Labour Party.  That means he’d never pick a fight with large transnational corporations like Ford, Nissan & Vauxhall.  Therefore, the driver – and not the manufacturer – has to pay!   

In addition, Blairites would never take on the Money Power in respect of taxation.  Therefore, drivers – and everyone else for that matter – have to pay.  

We feel that there’s also some merit in the argument that ULEZ is all about power & control.  Could they be one way of paving the ground for government sanctioned 15-minute cities?    

With all of the above in mind, it’s clear that action does need to be taken in London & our other cities.   

We wouldn’t be surprised to learn that overpopulation & the sheer size of our cities lead to alienation, pollution and many forms of ill health (and especially mental health problems).   

But what should be done?   

We hope to take a look at various radical solutions in the near future.  As National Liberals, our watchword is ‘Small is Beautiful’.  Therefore, our solutions would be centred around Distributism, the Social Credit ideas of C. H. Douglas, Co-operatives and other ‘human scale’ activities like Permaculture.   

In the meantime, we’d like to hear ideas from our readers on how they would tackle pollution in cities like London.  Simply let us know in the comments section when you see this article on the National Liberal Party’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/NationalLiberalParty – or our National Liberals Facebook page –   https://www.facebook.com/groups/52739504313  

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