By rights, this ought to be the end of Sadiq Khan. In return for a £1.6 billion bail-out of the London transport network, the Government has imposed a Carthaginian peace on the capital and its dismal mayor. Khan’s signature policy, a fares freeze on the Tube and buses, is gone. He must accept new “governance and oversight arrangements2018国产亚洲精品免费视频” for Transport for London (TfL): an apparent end to his total control of the city’s transport policy. Full Underground services will also be restored, a humiliation for a politician who had denounced the Government’s calls for some people to return to work as irresponsible.
2018国产亚洲精品免费视频And yet the mayor appears remarkably chipper, and perhaps for good reason. Khan had already intimated that Tube fares would have to rise. Now he can blame the Government for making his policy unsustainable rather than his mismanagement of TfL’s finances. He is demanding a new funding model for London’s transport network, including the possibility of permanent UK taxpayer support.
Worse, under the cover of complying with the terms of the bail-out, Khan is steaming ahead with some of the most aggressive anti-car policies2018国产亚洲精品免费视频 seen in decades. Massive increases in emissions and congestion charging will make it practically impossible for some people to cross central London ever again if they are unable to walk or cycle and they avoid public transport as recommended. He has also announced plans to create one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world.
2018国产亚洲精品免费视频Several bridges across the Thames may be closed entirely to motorists, while congestion is destined to soar as pavements are widened and streets are closed. Supporters of such schemes claim that only a small number of drivers in the city centre will be affected. But what about the thousands of delivery drivers, small business owners and sole traders who cannot get around except by car or van? These are groups that are already struggling financially thanks to the impact of the lockdown.
I know it is unfashionable to demur from the pro-cycling, anti-driving consensus, which now reaches the very top of this supposedly pro-freedom Government and has spread to all parts of the country. But do they really think they can magic up a bike-riding utopia overnight? Or that millions of people will suddenly be able to change their habits, without paying a cost in all sorts of underappreciated ways? Economic and social reality appear to be entirely irrelevant to green ideologues, on Left and Right, who are embracing the opportunity of a temporary lockdown to permanently lock down mobility.
The tragedy is that Khan will probably get away with it. This year’s mayoral election was postponed and his Tory opponent is nowhere. Khan is almost certain to be returned for another four years, to exercise power without responsibility. And what of the Government? Despite the pretence of tough treatment, it is more aligned with his radical agenda than it would care to admit. London is just the start.