Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

I’m Bored. Let’s Have a Go at a Green.

Green Patio Heater

What? It's green isn't it? (You can get them in silver too, I think.)

Darren Johnson is a Green Party member of the London Assembly. He’s a ‘London-wide’ member, which means he wasn’t popular enough to be voted in for an actual GLA constituency.

Anyway, not having to service a constituency means he has time to pen missives to every local paper in London and the surrounds, such as this:

Londoners are facing high unemployment, falling real incomes, soaring rents and fares, as well as environmental problems such as dangerous air pollution and cold homes.

I want the Mayor of London to set a budget which responds to these basic concerns.

Freezing the council tax will help slightly, but Londoners travelling to work are having to pay out far more in fare rises, than they are saving in council tax.

Did you notice what was missing? The one major cost pressure he didn’t list was fuel prices – over half of which are made up of taxes and duties. Oh but of course, cars are evil aren’t they?

Rewarding people for using environmentally friendly public transport should take priority over car driving in London.

In the short term we can lower fares by raising the central London congestion charge for the most polluting gas guzzlers and setting up a new ‘anti-pollution’ charging zone around Heathrow airport.

In the longer term, this may well solve the problems of people travelling in to London, since once the congestion charge has been raised so high that no-one can service the place, they’ll be out of a job, or working outside (Inner) London*. Yes, it will have to go up for every vehicle, since it has always been about revenue-raising and not reducing congestion (which it doesn’t).

This is just one of the ways in which the Mayor could improve our environment, whilst helping the poorest to cope with hard times.

You know, Darren, this isn’t the 1950’s; the era when estates for ‘poor people’ were laid out with no provision for cars because poor people just couldn’t afford, or didn’t need, to drive.

Outside Inner London, there are many people – ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ – for whom a freeze in council tax is worth more than the rise in the fares they pay for their occasional trip into town. Of course, what would really make a difference to their living costs – whether it’s transport (those evil cars) or “cold homes” – is reducing the cost of fuel. That’s the cost, for instance, of filling the car up so they can get to work, since not everyone toils in Zone 1 (and yes, that may include charging up the Pious Prius). The trouble is, Darren Johnson’s solution to that probably involves windmills, and the sort of financially myopic interventionism in the energy and oil industries that would just bring forward the day when the lights do actually go out.

But hey, by then at least we’ll have this global warming licked and we can avoid that traditional spike in demand for sun cream every February.

* Indeed (for the sake of completeness) once no-one can be bothered to use Heathrow anymore because the cab fare costs more than the flight….

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