Friday, 15 May 2020

After wrecking Tube services Sadiq Khan causes outrage

Sadiq Khan was today accused of risking lives and forcing people out of their cars and on to the Tube where social distancing is 'impossible' because of a lack of trains after he brought back the central London congestion charge from Monday and jacked it up to £15 from £11.50.

The Mayor of London has also announced that from next month the daily penalty, introduced by Ken Livingstone in 2003, will for the first time be imposed on weekends and extended out of rush hour from 6pm to 10pm - just hours after accepting a £1.6billion taxpayer-funded bailout. 

But MailOnline exclusively reveal that minutes before making the announcement Mr Khan dodged London's packed Tube and was picked up from home in his taxpayer-funded chauffeur-driven £100,000 Range Rover followed by his security detail in a £60,000 Land Rover discovery.

Motorists in London will again have to pay the £11.50 congestion charge again from Monday, a fortnight earlier than expected, after it was suspended at the start of the lockdown to make it easier for key workers to get around. The £12.50-a-day Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge for older and more polluting vehicles will also return next week.

From June 1, when the lockdown is expected to be eased further Boris Johnson, the daily congestion charge will rise from £11.50 to £15 - a 30 per cent hike.  And from June 22 it will then be enforced seven days a week, and until 10pm, for the first time. NHS workers will be able to claim it back, City Hall said.

The Mayor of London also said there will be include fare rises from January - after four straight years of freezes - and a temporary end to free travel for London's 1.5million schoolchildren and no free peak travel for the over-60s while the lockdown continues.  

Mr Khan says today's congestion charge announcement was insisted on by the Government and complained that blasted the £1.1billion grant and £505million loan agreed by Boris Johnson last night is a 'bad deal', describing it as 'sticking plaster', with City Hall sources suggesting more taxpayers' cash might be needed within 80 days.

He said: 'I want to be completely honest and upfront with Londoners – this is not the deal I wanted. But it was the only deal the Government put on the table and I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running'. 

There is anger and disbelief among Londoners who have been forced to drive to work to protect their family from coronavirus because of a lack of social distancing on public transport. Mr Khan has also been shamed by pictures from European capitals such as Berlin, where 100% of Tube services have been running for weeks with staff on hand to give out free face masks to all passengers.

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told MailOnline: 'The Labour Mayor of London seems to be everything he can to sabotage the capital's economic recovery from the Covid-crisis. First it was a lack of public transport services in cahoots with his union paymasters and now this. This risks forcing more people on to the Tube and increasing the rate of infection again. What is Khan thinking? Londoners might wonder whose side he's on’. 

Conservative London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey said: ‘Continuing to blame Government for his own financial negligence is not leadership. It's playing politics’.  

Sadiq Khan's extraordinary tax rise during the coronavirus crisis came as:

  • There is growing confusion over the lockdown measures after new data suggests just 24 people a day in London are catching coronavirus;
  • Boris Johnson wants a health drive to slash obesity after admitting his own 17st weight made his coronavirus bout more severe; 
  • The lockdown will be tested again with more fine weather predicted and towns and villages in national parks or by the coast fearing a flood of visitors. There has also been a rush of people to second homes;
  • The fierce row between the Government and teaching unions is intensifying as the battle over whether primary schools can reopen on June 1 rages; 

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