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Antony Antoniou – Luxury Property Expert

Antony Antoniou

ULEZ is a disgraceful tax on the poor

ULEZ is a disgraceful tax on the poor

ULEZ is a disgraceful tax on the poor

 

The ULEZ charge was introduced in 2019, placing thousands of motorists at the mercy of a daily charge to drive into the zone. This affected Petrol vehicles that are not Euro 4 and Diesel vehicles that are not Euro 6. On the face of it, this may seem to be an admirable change, helping to make the capital a cleaner place, by reducing the volume of harmful emissions that we all breath in.

I beg to differ……..the only people who are required to pay this charge are those who have Diesel vehicles older than around 2014, or petrol vehicles older than around 2004, who would actually own these vehicles?

Only those who cannot afford a newer vehicle would own one that is subject to the ULEZ charge. 

How can this be really justified? Surely a more sensible and logical approach would have been to set a limit on vehicle emissions on a sliding scale and actually ban them from central London? If a maximum of 300g/km were introduced, then reduced year on year, based on a sliding scale, 275, 250, 225 and so on, that would be both logical, effective and most important of all, it would be fair!

As it stands, those who can afford to pay, must be jumping for joy, year on year, the combination of the congestion charge and ULEZ is reducing the number of cars that can enter central London, whilst the wealthy ‘play-boys’ can fly their supercars in and drive around the streets of London as though they own them.

One of the most cynical events of this entire charade was the comment from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, that he we disappointed with the revenue collected by extension of the ULEZ zone to all areas within the North & South circular, just think about this for a minute:

He was disappointed that there were not enough people who could not afford newer cars, entering the ULEZ zone and paying his extortion fee!

Can anyone possibly stoop lower than that?

Do we need to reduce emissions in our towns and cities? Yes of course! Is there an effective way for this to happen? Yes there is! Car manufacturers have not had enough pressure placed upon them to produce cleaner vehicles fast enough. Had there been a cap on emissions introduced on a sliding scale years ago, we would already be down to a maximum that is far lower than the average car is now, but it would have been introduced gradually and evenly.  Is it right that people who are increasingly facing the choice of heating or food, be punished for their poverty?

Is it right that those who can afford the latest and cleanest, should be rewarded? I think not!

There need not have been a congestion charge and a ULEZ charge, just a blanket reduction of emissions, full stop. However, how do we reduce the massive number of vehicles that drive in to London and most cities on a daily basis? At the moment, once again, it is down to affordability. As anyone who has been brave enough to even consider the notion of parking in central London, Oxford, Cambridge or many other cities will know, the cost can be ridiculous, once again, I have no doubt that the wealthy are thinking, “the higher the better” that ensure that there is always a space for us to park!

Could there be another solution perhaps? Consider the effects of the following:

What if the number of long stay parking spaces, no matter who they are owned by, were reduced by 10% per year, or even 5% if necessary? What would the result be?

In the first instance, motorists would leave home earlier, to grab the available spaces, taking the morning rush-hour from 8.00AM to 7.00AM and then 6.00AM, but at some point, many motorists would make alternative arrangements, be they car-pooling, public transport, working from home, or even moving home. Provided that this were implemented slowly, the public would adjust, the whole morning rush would change, companies would think more about how their employees could get to work, rather than concentrating on being located in a prestige location. No matter what, in less than a generation, we would have changed the entire pattern of getting to work and the dependence on the car, without causing alarm, without distressing people and most importantly, without making anyone suffer. Incremental changes are always accepted by the masses (just consider how we have accepted the erosion of our civil liberties)

Allow me to quickly reference to the Barcelona Super-Blocks. I have written about these in a separate article, but it makes so much sense. By creating a city that is increasingly mixed use, where entire blocks are pedestrianised, with the exception of specific vehicles, they are not just residential or commercial, they are mixed use, with shops, offices and homes within the same buildings. This has created entire neighbourhoods that are not dependent on cars, but focussed on people. This cannot be done overnight, it requires planning, developers and local authorities to work together, creating the inner-cities of the future.

The key to this is and always has been public transport. Ever since the ‘Beeching Axe’ created dependence on the car on a national scale, there has been a real need for effective and affordable public transport. We now have electric scooters, which make perfect sense, despite the danger that they risk to irresponsible riders, but that is also the case with cyclists riding furiously, how many of you have been injured by sharp metal pedals scraping your legs as they arrogantly rush by?

As cars are reduced, there will be more space for pedestrians, cyclists and scooters to travel safely, without being a danger to each other. We are in the midst of a motoring bottleneck, it takes longer to cross London today, than it did 100 years ago, that should really put it in to perspective.

The moral is, we are all aware that change is needed, but it must be planned, it must be an evolution, it should not be little more than ‘virtue-signalling, knee-jerk reactions that do little more than repeat a rhetoric, but in reality, do nothing more than punish those who cannot afford to change their circumstances in sync with changes on government policy.

 

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