Letter: Sadiq Khan must drop boundary charge plan
Senior Conservative politicians have today called on Sadiq Khan to drop his boundary charge threat, warning it would "erect a barrier around Greater London".
In a letter, organised by Peter Fortune AM, 51 Conservative politicians have called on the Mayor to rule out the introduction of a boundary charge for drivers entering Greater London in the latest Transport for London (TfL) bailout negotiations.
Peter Fortune AM, Deputy Leader of the GLA Conservatives, commented: "Sadiq Khan needs to drop his disastrous boundary charge threat. Slapping drivers with a daily charge to enter Greater London would hit commuters with a £1,000 a year bill for visiting, working and shopping in our city.
"That's an eye-watering bill to push onto struggling families in the Home Counties. It would also have a catastrophic effect on Outer London's businesses and public services that rely on customers and workers who live outside the capital.
"Threatening UK taxpayers with a toll to enter Greater London is the worst way to negotiate a fourth bailout for Transport for London. Instead of threatening terrible ideas, Khan needs to work constructively with the government to reform TfL and keep London moving."
Dear Mr Mayor,
We are writing to request you rule out the introduction of a boundary charge for drivers entering Greater London in the latest Transport for London (TfL) bailout negotiations.
As outlined in TfL’s Financial Sustainability Plan, your proposal to charge up to £5.50 to drive into the capital would seriously hurt Outer London and the Home Counties.
Around 1.35 million vehicles drive into Greater London each weekday. Of these trips, one million are into Outer London. A majority of these vehicles are registered outside the capital, so liable to pay your proposed daily boundary charge.
This means at least 675,000 motorists would be hit by the charge each day. According to TfL's initial estimates, the number of weekday car trips into Greater London would fall by 8%, that’s 108,000 fewer visitors a day.
Let's be clear what these figures mean for our communities inside the capital and out.
For Outer London, a boundary charge would penalise people visiting family and friends. It would hurt local businesses and high streets which rely on customers and visitors from outside the capital. It would also deter people living outside the boundary from working in Greater London, undermining our businesses and public services. Over half of London’s police officers and firefighters live outside the capital. According to a London NHS Trust, one-fifth of its staff, doctors and nurses could be hit by the charge.
A survey of schools in the London Borough of Bromley also revealed that many teachers live outside the capital. One school said that 40% of its employees could be hit by the charge, warning that it would struggle to retain and recruit teaching staff.
For the Home Counties, a boundary charge would mean a substantial pay cut of up to £1,000 a year for people who regularly drive into Greater London for work. It would also separate some communities from their nearest town centre, school or hospital.
Many could face charges of up to £33 a day to drive into the capital - the combined cost of the Greater London Boundary Charge, Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone.
It also punishes people who are only able to access London’s public transport network by driving to places such as Stanmore and Epping. Unlike central London, many places in Outer London and neighbouring communities, like Harefield in Hillingdon and Biggin Hill in Bromley, have poor public transport links.
If you are genuinely concerned by the number of cars driving into the capital, you should look at the public transport provision in Outer London. Rather than imposing new road taxes, you need to give people a real alternative to driving and install electric charging points to enable people to switch to electric vehicles.
Fundamentally, charging drivers to enter the capital flies in the face of your “London is Open” message and “Let’s Do London” campaign. It would erect a barrier around Greater London, keeping visitors, customers and workers away, benefiting no-one and hurting everyone.
Despite assuring the London Assembly back in June that TfL would publish a feasibility report into the charge, they are yet to do so. However, you continue to threaten this tax despite not knowing the impact it would have on people and businesses.
You cannot push the bill for the failed policies and mismanagement of your mayoralty onto others. It is a fact that TfL has already lost billions of pounds before the pandemic even hit. Irresponsibly freezing fares cost at least £640 million in lost revenue. The delay to Crossrail has cost nearly £4 billion in bailouts and lost TfL £1.35 billion in fares revenue. TfL’s perks, bonuses and golden pensions waste millions of pounds a year.
UK taxpayers will continue to keep London moving through this crisis. You do not need to threaten them. But, you do need to do your bit to balance TfL's books.
We urge you to drop your boundary charge proposal as you enter new negotiations on a further bailout for TfL. This will be the fourth bailout and build on the almost £5 billion the Government has provided to keep London moving. Instead of making threats, we call on you to constructively work with the Government to agree on a funding settlement that works for London and the entire country. Yours sincerely, Peter Fortune, AM for Bexley and Bromley Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster
Gareth Bacon, MP for Orpington
Shaun Bailey, London-wide AM
John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay
Emma Best, London-wide AM
Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East
Cllr Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler, Leader of the Conservative Group in Hammersmith and Fulham
Andrew Boff, London-wide AM
Felicity Buchan, MP for Kensington
Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington
Cllr Oliver Cooper, Leader of the Conservative Group in Camden
Cllr Kevin Davis, Leader of the Conservative Group in Kingston upon Thames
Tony Devenish, AM for West Central
Cllr Tom Drummond, Leader of the Conservative Group in Sutton
Cllr Ian Edwards, Leader of Hillingdon Council
Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford
Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green
Louie French, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup
Neil Garratt, AM for Croydon and Sutton
Susan Hall, London-wide AM
Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon
Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of the Conservative Group in Richmond upon Thames
Adam Holloway, MP for Gravesham
Cllr Linda Huggett, Leader of the Conservative Group in Redbridge
Cllr Tim James, Leader of the Conservative Group in Waltham Forest
Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford
Cllr Joanne Laban, Leader of the Conservative Group in Enfield
Julia Lopez, MP for Hornchurch and Upminster Joy Morrissey, MP for Beaconsfield
Sir Bob Neill, MP for Bromley and Chislehurst
Cllr Teresa O'Neill, Leader of Bexley Council
Cllr Paul Osborn, Leader of the Conservative Group in Harrow
Cllr Jason Perry, Leader of the Conservative Group in Croydon
Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South
Keith Prince, AM for Havering and Redbridge
Nick Rogers, AM for South West
Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford
Dean Russell, MP for Watford
Paul Scully, MP for Sutton and Cheam
David Simmonds, MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner
Cllr Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council
Henry Smith, MP for Crawley
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford and Woodford Green
Dr Ben Spencer, MP for Runnymede and Weybridge
Cllr Gregory Stafford, Leader of the Conservative Group in Ealing
Colonel Bob Stewart, MP for Beckenham
Cllr Daniel Thomas, Leader of Barnet Council
Laura Trott, MP for Sevenoaks
Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet
Cllr Damian White, Leader of Havering Council