As I sit here writing, my phone pings for the umpteenth time: another person getting in touch asking what they should do after the High Court’s ULEZ decision. Businesses are in shock. Charities are in shock. Londoners are in shock.
But there’s more to it. There’s genuine anger. Anger at a Mayor that has dragged us to this point. Anger at an overwhelming majority from a consultation seemingly ignored from the start as the ghastly Big Brother cameras pop up on every traffic light you see. Anger at the fact no-one can seem to get through to London’s rogue Mayor.
And it’s the hardest working, lowest income, working class Londoners who will pay the heaviest price. And no, the vast majority get nothing from Sadiq’s £110 million sCRAPpage scheme – while he blames the Government for not giving him more money for it, as if his £19 billion budget and the £6 billion TfL bailout wasn’t enough! Yep, even his financial incompetence is someone else’s fault. Nothing is ever his.
In exactly one month, Sadiq Khan’s second ULEZ expansion seems set to happen. Overnight, millions of Londoners face being charged £12.50 every day for popping to the shops, picking up the kids, driving to A&E, or going to the station to catch the already expensive Underground. The cost of living just became the cost of London (plus an additional £4,500 a year to pay ULEZ charges). It’s Sadiq Khan’s London tax (but that doesn’t win votes, so he’s called it something greener and softer to make people believe it’s doing something to protect the environment: the definition of greenwashing).
And heaven help you if you aren’t technologically savvy. Unless you can set up an online account, register your vehicle details, enrol in auto-pay to take the £12.50 charge each day you drive, you’ll wait 10 days for the £160+ fine to come in the post, followed by 9 more for every day since that first trip. In just under 2 weeks, almost £2,000 in fines. That’s Sadiq Khan’s plan to plug his financial holes – your wallet.
Rubbing salt in the wounds: we know ULEZ will make no difference to air quality in London. No matter how many times TfL or the Mayor try to brainwash you with adverts and stories of “4,000 premature death a year” (deemed ‘misleading and wrong’ when reports dug deeper into the figures), or ULEZ miraculously bringing “cleaner air to 5 million more people” (because the delivery of clean air is like flicking a switch, right?), we know that the Jacobs Impact Assessment, that Sadiq Khan commissioned, came back saying the expansion would have a “negligible” impact on air quality. Conveniently, Khan now says that wasn’t the real Assessment – you couldn’t make it up! Well, unless you’re Sadiq Khan.
There’s a pattern here. If questioned, deny and deflect. Shift the goalposts and guilt trip. That’s what he did to me. “Listen to the people!” That’s what I said to Sadiq Khan at People’s Question Time in March to raucous applause. His response? “Well let me ask you this…what is the price of a young child’s life?” and the room erupted. (By the way, the answer is: if you pay Sadiq Khan’s £12.50 you can in that 24 hours drive whatever vehicle you want, as long as you want – so according to him, the value is £12.50!)
In one moment the entire ULEZ debate was summed up. Team Sadiq: a twice-elected Mayor seeking a third term after realising colleagues weren’t jumping at the prospect of him coming back into Parliament, has since crippled TfL’s finances, overseen crime skyrocketing, stabbings become daily events, his share of council tax increase by 57%, the London Fire Brigade placed in special measures, the Metropolitan Police (that he is the Police and Crime Commissioner of) also in special measures, empty cycle lanes everywhere, traffic jams all over London; and don’t run a wheel into a bus lane for a second because they’ll come for you!
Then comes Team London, feeling Sadiq’s squeeze as the cost of Khan adds up, stuck in a city plagued by tube strikes (despite him promising ‘zero days of strikes’ when he first stood for Mayor) and now the reality of paying £12.50 a day, £4,500 a year for the supposed luxury of leaving their own driveways.
Enough is enough. What will it take for Londoners to kick Khan out? What will be the straw that breaks our City’s back? The 2nd May 2024 – the next London Mayoral election, cannot come quick enough. Crime: up. Council tax: up. Strikes: up. Lack of affordable housing: up. Small businesses shutting: up. Charities being lost: up. Independent traders pushed under: up. Fines, charges and fees for everything from ULEZ to tube tickets: up. Need I seriously go on?
Sadiq Khan has destroyed London. He needs to go. Now!
And it now extends beyond just Sadiq Khan and the Mayoral election. His own party, the Labour Party, supposedly on the side of the working class, are now paying the price for their indecisiveness – and rightly so! An example: despite overwhelming opposition in Harrow (where I am a local councillor), every single Harrow Labour Councillor sat through two debates deciding if the Council should first oppose ULEZ, and second support the Judicial Review standing up for millions of Londoners. Labour simply abstained – they couldn’t be bothered!
Earlier, I heard a caller on LBC tell David ‘two-jobs-are-bad-for-everyone-but-me’ Lammy how Labour deserve “a taste of their own medicine” for not standing up to Sadiq Khan. I and thousands of others totally agree. Sir Keir spineless-Starmer, whose flip-flops never stop, still will not come out and call on Sadiq Khan to scrap, or even halt, his ULEZ expansion. Instead he wants him just to “reflect” on it. Weak. He is complicit in London’s demise and destruction. Get off the fence!
So Londoners, whatever your age, whatever your background, whatever your circumstances: don’t give up! Sadiq Khan may have won this battle, but he will lose the war. The voice of Londoners has been loud and clear: ULEZ is not welcome here! Just look at the Uxbridge-and-South-Ruislip by-election. Look at the monthly, weekly, sometimes daily ULEZ protests all around London by people from all walks of life. Look at Sadiq Khan’s attempt to smear anyone with an opposing opinion by calling them “far-right, vaccine deniers and Coviddeniers” (again during that People’s Question Time where he answered my question with his own question) We must kick out Khan! The time has come for much needed change. There is nothing more pressing to our great city than his attack on our civil liberties, freedom, and democratic processes. We cannot let Sadiq Khan off the hook for this. We cannot let any future Mayor believe they can take the will of the people for granted, ignore overwhelming consultation results, and plough ahead with their pre-written projects to help sell their latest book deal. London is on its knees crying for change and we must make sure we deliver it. Do not give up. Do not stop. Do not allow him to win. He must “Listen to the people”.
Cllr Matthew Goodwin-Freeman has been an elected Conservative Councillor in Harrow since the May 2022 elections and is the Deputy Chairman of the Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner Conservative Association. Having first got involved in local politics through the Harrow Youth Parliament, Matthew has become a local Mental Health Champion, a Youth Ambassador for Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL), a Youth Delegate for the Change the World Model United Nations Conference taking place in New York 2022 and supports numerous local charities and community groups.