British Worms Turning

I haven’t been Over There for a while, and it’s probably a Good Thing I haven’t because in addition to London’s “congestion charge” (a.k.a. let’s create an additional tax revenue stream by scalping drivers) there’s now something called the Ultra Low Emissions Zone “ULEZ” (here’s the explanation, I couldn’t be bothered to type it out).

Anyway, it seems that more than a few Londoners have taken exception to this little scheme.  Cameras (both fixed and in mobile units) are used as an enforcement tool, like London doesn’t have enough of those poxy things already — and the fed-up public have decided to take matters into their own hands, to show Hizzoner the Mayor what they think about this nonsense:

For the first time since the anger of the Poll Tax riots during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister or the anti-Iraq war demonstrations under Tony Blair, we are witnessing an outpouring of anger against the government. In this case it is anger at the anti-car measures by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Citizens are attacking and disabling the network of cameras in London that monitors all traffic and fine cars that do not meet certain standards.

The attack on the motorist in London goes back to 2003 when the then London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, implemented the Congestion Zone whereby drivers would have to pay to enter. The public were told that this would cut congestion but many felt it was just anyway to extract money from the motorist. Public transport in London is very good but never before has there been a road charge in the UK. The London Congestion zone was, and probably still is, the largest in the world.

The next attack on motorists was the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) which was also introduced by Ken Livingstone in 2008 and was, as the name suggests, a charge/fine based on vehicle emissions. It was expanded a number of times and now covers all of London. This was to target older trucks and large vehicles. Ken Livinstone was a Labour socialist mayor but the next intrusion came from the so-called Conservative mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

In 2014 Boris announced the creation of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) which was targeted at car drivers. Five years later the ULEZ zone started in central London and older cars entered the zone to pay for the privilege of driving on London roads for that and every day. The cost of driving an older car into central London was now £12.50 for ULEZ and £15 for Congestion Charge. That’s over $30 a day to drive on a public road.

The fightback we are seeing today has been dubbed the ULEZ “Blade Runners.” Hundreds of the ULEZ cameras have been damaged or destroyed across London. Campaigners/vigilantes/angry citizens (take your pick) are cutting wires on the equipment and spraying the lenses with paint. Up to a quarter of all the cameras have been attacked. To combat this fight back, Sadiq Khan has employed an army of CCTV camera vans to drive around and fill these blackspots. But now we are seeing vans parking in front of these vans to block their camera and render them useless.

There is so much frustration against this onslaught in motorists that the legacy media is even running stories on the Blade Runners and interviewing them so their story can get out. This “lawbreaking” seems to be championed by sections of the media which is intriguing and encouraging. The public has been invited to take part in consultations on the introduction of both of these charges but the government was always going to implement them. They claim it is about the environment but it seems to be about something else which the government are always short of. Money!

The congestion charge rakes in £220 million every year. That’s a quarter of a billion dollars every year. A quarter of that (£55 million) is used to administer the zone but the rest is pure profit. A tax on the motorist. The ULEZ expansion is estimated to net Sadiq Khan up to £300m in its first year. That’s half a billion dollars a year.

The attacks on this network are only increasing. Not only are the public against the fines but they are also against this new level of surveillance. Sadiq Khan operates a network of 1,544 Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. ULEZ will add another 2,700.

Does anyone believe the lie that this is about saving the planet and nothing to do with raising more tax?

LOL.  Keep it up, British people.

Ordinarily, I’d suggest a more drastic solution to the problem, i.e. an ancient and much-used British legal device:

…but no doubt some Brit rozzer would have a problem with that.


  1. I was just over there. Google Maps would throw up a warning about it any time you were driving into London (as we (my fiancée and I) did on our next-to-last day when we returned to a hotel just outside Heathrow).

    In the news while we were there: a new 20 mph in-town speed limit. Wales just implemented it nationwide, the first to do so. We spent all our time in central and southern England, but there were already towns scattered here and there that had implemented it. They even have a slogan for it: “Twenty is Plenty.” 😛

    1. Now if they would just apply that to the ULEZ and Congestion Charge.
      It’s not just a revenue source. These people also hate the privately owned car. With it, they can go where they want, when they want, on the spur of the moment. Poor people should only be traveling between work and home with an occasional outing to Brighton like in the old days.

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