It is no surprise that in the past 12 months we’ve become a one-issue nation. Even if it’s not the battle against COVID-19 itself, it’s the social and economic fall out we’ve got to deal with.
With our eyes rightly focused on the prize of getting the country back on its feet and its population safe from the virus, it’s easy to miss other threats to our economy and livelihoods.
Chief among them is Sadiq Khan’s plans to expand his Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) into Greater London.
Pressing on with the expansion of the ULEZ beyond Central London will spell the death knell for thousands of businesses and one band operations.
And while this currently might just be a London problem, mark my words, other cities across the country will be paying close attention and will be looking to copy the mistake our tin-eared mayor is making.
He doesn’t seem to care about the damage it will do to the economy; he is more interested in the single-issue lobby groups and picking the pockets of long-suffering motorists.
Plumbers, carpenters and electricians are just some of the people who are likely to be hit with the 24-hour, seven-days-a-week £12.50 charge, for vehicles not deemed to have been the emission standards, once it’s stretched out to Greater London at the A406 North Circular Road and A205 South Circular Road in October this year.
Don’t get me wrong though, I do completely agree that London needs to address its pollution levels. However, I have a feeling that clean air may not be the mayor’s only motivation for creating one giant ULEZ zone across the capital as he has form for this sort of thing.
Back in Lockdown One he slapped a 30 percent increase on the congestion charge to milk hard-pressed businesses and workers of the capital to pull in some more cash.
Yet again he forgets we are in the middle of a pandemic where people have been unable to work for months at a time due to various restrictions.
Many businesses are being pushed to the brink by this proposal. I’ve heard from numerous tradespeople who will simply have to hang up their tools when they time comes as they are unable to afford a new van to meet the stringent restrictions or pay the mounting bill for driving around the capital.
And tradespeople won’t be alone in this, other businesses will be too, not to mention the volunteers, carers, pensioners and many others who will be forced to pay more to get around London.
It is disgraceful that this is still even a consideration at this time. The effects will be far-reaching at a time when everybody is struggling.
Time may be dragging while we’re all prevented from leaving our homes for anything more than work, but October will come around very quickly. The mayor has to do the right thing as soon as possible by waking up and giving people a break by pushing this scheme back for 12 months.