Oh dear, the Conservatives have reverted to type. In the 1980s, they were standard bearers for what Mrs Thatcher called the ‘great car economy’. More recently, David Cameron has been keen to rebrand the party as cyclists, in tune with the ecology of a fragile planet. Now, Boris Johnson has gone back to basics, by abolishing half the London Congestion zone.
Admittedly, he conducted a referendum within the affected part of the zone, which produced a majority for scrapping it. But one couldn’t help hoping he’d think better of it. I write with an interest. We live within the part of the zone that’s going.
The Congestion Charge deterred car commuters, and I hate the thought that more cars will come chugging into our neighbourhood, clogging up our streets and despoiling our air quality. Also, the Western Extension produced £70 million a year, which could be invested in green transport. With the Olympics on the way, where on earth is Mayor Johnson to find that sort of money?
There is the democratic argument, but measures to improve the environment are like diets: nobody welcomes them, however much they’re needed. Ken Livingstone, being a rhinoceros-hided zealot, imposed a vision. Undoing his achievement will be a lot easier than finding other measures to replace it.