Transport Strategy (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
June 28, 2017
Question By: 
Steve O'Connell
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Steve O’Connell AM:  Thank you very much.  It is very helpful for Onkar to tee me up nicely, talking about the hierarchy.  Welcome, Val.  It is great to see you both.  From your hierarchy, the motorist is clearly rock bottom in your planning in the new Strategy.  While clearly we would support the fact that people need to be more active and we get all that, I need to perhaps point out that in your Strategy it seems to be that you are clobbering the driver. 

 

My first question, Val, to you is regarding road pricing, which is inherent within the Strategy.  It would probably have been better if the Mayor had been here because it is a political question.  I regret that he is not here but it is always great to see you, Val.  Where was road pricing in the Mayor’s manifesto a year ago?  I did not see it, though I perhaps did not study it as closely as some of my colleagues. 

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Transport Strategy (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Transport Strategy (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Valerie Shawcross CBE (Deputy Mayor for Transport):  I would say the growth of the population in London means that we have to address the proportion of people on journeys who choose the car because we simply do not have the road space to continue with a population driving at the percentage levels that they do.  At the moment, 64% of journeys are walking, cycling or public transport.  As the population grows, we have to make sure that there is no net growth of car driving.  We do not have the road space for it.  We are not talking at all about clobbering the driver.  You will see there are some key benefits for essential car journeys.  If you can reduce traffic congestion it does make the journeys you have to make more available and efficient. 

 

The reference to road pricing in here is basically to talk about, “What would we do when we come around to technically refresh the congestion charging equipment that is there at the moment?”  The cameras and the technology that is operating the congestion charge system at the moment is 15 or 16 years old and when we get to the stage ‑ bearing in mind this is a 25‑year document so this is just a hook in there ‑ we would need to look at what would be the appropriate technologies for the refreshing of the congestion charge system, basically.  That is not a short‑term plan in there.  There is a hook in here so that when we look at the congestion charge system, what do we do next with it?  Of course technology has moved on.  It was something that the Assembly’s Transport Committee, cross‑party, recommended in your document on congestion.  What we are saying in here is that we do not have a detailed plan at the moment but that is certainly something we think we should be looking at. 

 

Steve O’Connell AM:  OK.  You did not answer my question about the manifesto but let me just move on.  Bearing in mind that motorists ‑ there are many motorists around this horseshoe ‑ pay road tax, the MOT (Ministry of Transport) test and fuel duty, they do already pay a fair whack towards the Exchequer, which is correct.  Within the Strategy it says:

 

“We must address the fundamentally inadequate and unfair way that road use is paid for with motorists paying too little and in effect being subsidised by public transport fare payers.”

 

Many people on public transport clearly have their fares subsidised as well.  How would you respond to that?

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE (Deputy Mayor for Transport):  The problem, Steve, and this is something that my colleagues are raising with the Treasury, is that London gets absolutely not one penny of the road tax that goes to the national Treasury.  We get no money at all for our roads, which is deeply unfair and incoherent.  The Treasury are going to have to look at this.  The other thing I would say is that over time we are going to be pushing and I know nationally over time there will be a trend towards electric cars and zero‑emission technology.  There will not be fuel duties being paid.  The Government itself is going to have to look at how we pay for our road infrastructure and its maintenance in the future.  There will need to be responses to technical changes.  Mike, did you want to come in on this one?

 

Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  Yes, just to reinforce that point if I may.  In blunt terms, on the strategic road network in London, once a strategic road ‑ the A2, for example ‑ crosses the London boundary, there is no money from the Government for us as TfL to maintain that strategic road network, whereas Highways England, who are responsible for the A2 just outside London, do get money for repairing and maintaining that piece of road.  I see no logic in that.  The only logic that might have existed previously was when we got an operational grant from the Government.  They might have argued that that was partly to take care of such maintenance provision or maintenance provision within our budget.  Of course that grant is going to zero, as the Government has made very clear to us, and therefore there simply is not the money for us to maintain that road network.  That is something we are lobbying and working very hard on. 

 

Steve O’Connell AM:  I still do not see that as a reason to clobber the motorists.  It is a thread running through the Plan.  I will talk about car parking now because there is a piece within it talking about restricting car parking space in new developments.  Will you be amending the London Plan to make that direction?

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE (Deputy Mayor for Transport):  That is something we are discussing for the London Plan.  That will be about what is possible within the location.  If we are able to provide good new public transport then it makes it more feasible for there to be car‑light developments.  For there to be decisions taken to try to intensify housing development around public transport modes that mean they are less dependent on cars. 

 

Steve O’Connell AM:  I would suggest to you that that is already happening.  Often it is a good thing and often it is fairly difficult.

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE (Deputy Mayor for Transport):  It is to some degree. 

 

Steve O’Connell AM:  The last thing for me is that you talked about LIP funding, which is highly valued by boroughs.  The previous Mayor’s discipline around LIP funding was a bit more relaxed.  It allowed boroughs to have a bit more freedom in the monies that they bid for and that was appreciated.  Are you saying that now LIP funding applications coming up to you will be very strictly governed by the aspiration and the hierarchy plans within the Strategy?

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE (Deputy Mayor for Transport):  We try to strike the balance.  That guidance is out for consultation.  The structure of it is broadly the same.  There is a formula element and there are specific things that we are trying to achieve.  The point of having a Strategy is that you try to deliver it and we see the LIP process as a way of helping support delivery, but we have all had a lot of contact with the boroughs, spoken to the boroughs, visited the boroughs and talked to them at London Councils and locally, and I feel that the Healthy Streets agenda is very much based on the kind of aspirations that the boroughs have already. 

 

We opened a scheme in Kingston, Dr Will Norman [Walking and Cycling Commissioner] and I, they kindly invited us to cut the ribbon, and from that piece of funding ‑ I think it was strategic London funding ‑ they have opened up a fantastic walkway accessing a promenade accessing the river, because their access to their river was not good, a cycle route and a new bus stop and they have improved the planting in the local public realm.  That kind of scheme is the sort of thing I see coming out of the LIP programme ‑ public transport interchange improvements, road safety schemes ‑ and there is a complete overlap of what the boroughs are trying to achieve locally for their communities and what we are trying to achieve in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. 

 

Steve O’Connell AM:  OK.  Thank you.  Really the only way I think that people in outer London and south London will probably see some sense around this is to see a marked improvement in public transport in outer London, demonstrably see an effect, whereby they may then be able to get out of their car. 

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE (Deputy Mayor for Transport):  Absolutely, yes. 

 

Steve O’Connell AM:  My last point.  Thank you for the comments around the tram.  It is good to see you talk about the extension and particularly about the capacity in Croydon town centre.  I appreciate that piece and I will continue to talk to you about it over the coming three years.  Thank you, Chair.