London’s Traffic Woes: Hammersmith Bridge Toll and Congestion Charge Controversies

London’s Traffic Woes: Hammersmith Bridge Toll and Congestion Charge Controversies

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In an act of protest against Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) expansion, activists have taken to covering the cameras responsible for monitoring drivers who breach the new rules.

These cameras, typically black in appearance, have been adorned with stickers bearing the words ‘FCUK Khan’, representing the public’s dissatisfaction with the London mayor’s strict expansion of emission regulations.

Additionally, posters have been strategically placed on poles to draw attention to these cameras, labeling them as ‘spy cameras’.

Some vehicles have not been spared from these demonstrations either, as posters warning drivers of impending charges for non-compliant vehicles have been left on cars.

Controversy Surrounding ULEZ Expansion Plans

Amidst the ongoing protests and opposition, plans to expand the ULEZ across the entirety of London have encountered hurdles.

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Initially set to take effect soon, the expansion’s implementation has been postponed.

There were discussions within the government about potentially using legal powers to overrule Sadiq Khan’s expansion plans if they were deemed inconsistent with national policies.

However, legal experts have cautioned that such challenges might not hold up in court, given the broader UK policies aimed at tackling air pollution and reducing carbon emissions.

Londoners’ Mixed Sentiments and Political Impact

The ULEZ expansion has stirred mixed sentiments among Londoners.

A recent YouGov poll of 1,000 respondents revealed that Sadiq Khan’s popularity rating across the city stands at minus 12, with 52 percent of respondents viewing him unfavorably, compared to 40 percent favorably.

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Notably, his net rating is even lower in outer boroughs, plummeting to minus 24.

These sentiments are reflective of the ongoing resistance to the ULEZ expansion and are compounded by other political developments.

The Uxbridge by-election results, where Labour failed to secure victory, prompted party leader Sir Keir Starmer to call on Khan to reconsider the controversial policy.

Challenges Ahead and Potential Toll Charges

Despite the opposition, the ULEZ expansion is poised to move forward as planned.

Reports indicate that approximately one in ten cars will be affected by the expanded zone.

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Meanwhile, some motorists, desperate to avoid the charges, have taken drastic measures such as vandalizing ULEZ cameras.

Londoners are also growing concerned about the prospect of additional charges throughout the city.

A toll ranging from £2 to £5 is expected to be imposed at the Blackwall Tunnel, contingent upon the size of the vehicle.

This toll will only take effect once the Silvertown Tunnel, connecting Silvertown and Greenwich, becomes operational in 2025.

Additionally, discussions have arisen about implementing a £3 toll for the use of the Hammersmith Bridge, which has been closed since 2019 due to structural concerns.

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Mayor’s Previous Actions and Permanent Changes

Sadiq Khan’s previous actions regarding congestion charges have added to the overall discontent.

In June 2020, Khan increased the Congestion Charge by 30 percent to £15, citing financial pressure due to a government bailout for Transport for London.

However, this increase was later made permanent, sparking outrage among motoring groups who had initially viewed it as a temporary measure.

In conclusion, activists’ efforts to resist the ULEZ expansion through camera coverings and posters, coupled with legal and political considerations, reflect the complex landscape surrounding this contentious issue.

Londoners’ mixed sentiments, alongside concerns about potential toll charges and previous decisions by the mayor, contribute to the ongoing debate over the ULEZ expansion and its implications for the city’s residents.

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