From The Epoch Times:

Tory backlash to expansion ramps up

London mayor Sadiq Khan has been accused of attempting to “squash dissent,” after his deputy, Shirley Rodrigues, asked a City Hall-funded expert to counter science that questioned the benefits of the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion.

Ms. Rodrigues asked an academic, Professor Frank Kelly, who was in receipt of funding from Mr. Khan’s office, on two occasions to counter research and reporting about the ultra-low emission zone in the capital.

Mr. Kelly was asked whether he would be willing to “set the record straight,” after his fellow Imperial College London academics published a study suggesting the central London ULEZ had a relatively small effect on air pollution at its launch.

ULEZ has proved controversial, with the Conservatives citing local anger against an expansion of the charge to every London borough as the reason it was able to pull off a shock victory in last month’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election.

The expansion will see drivers in outer London pay a £12.50 daily fee, from August 29, if their vehicles do not meet required emissions standards.

Susan Hall, the Tory mayoral candidate in next year’s City Hall election, has pledged to scrap the expansion.

Government minister for London, Paul Scully, told TalkTV: “I think the further you get out of the city as [sic] the size of London, clearly the less impact something like ultra low emission zone is going to have.”

He insisted the “original ULEZ” could have an impact, but added that the “mayor and his deputy mayor are doubling down on this sledgehammer to crack a nut which is going to affect businesses, charities and the lowest paid people in and around London.

“And to the point that they’re paying this guy, the Imperial College, this department, £800,000 to prove the point for their spending a further £250 odd million … doubling down on it, trying to lean on them, whilst the study that you cite showed that there’s a next to no change here, less than 3 percent of change.”

Emails between Ms. Rodrigues and Mr. Kelly, obtained via a freedom of information request lodged by the Conservative Party, show the deputy mayor contacted the air quality expert on Nov. 16, 2021 to highlight a study published by Imperial College, which she described as “misleading.”

The study showed that ULEZ’s introduction in 2019 had only made a slight improvement in air quality following its original introduction in 2019.

In retort, City Hall claimed that analysing schemes such as ULEZ at the outset would not be “appropriate,” as they take time for air quality improvements to be felt through motorists switching to cleaner vehicles, or ditching their cars for public transport.

Ms. Rodrigues, in her correspondence with Mr. Kelly, said: “I am deeply concerned about the damage this misleading study is doing, both to our credibility and to low emission zones as a policy instrument.

“Is there anything you can do or advise to help us set the record straight?”

Ms. Rodrigues went on to work with him, drafting a press statement to send out in his name at the time, and again emailing him to help with a response, to further media coverage in February 2023.

In correspondence, Mr. Kelly told her that Imperial College was against putting out a “direct contradiction” to the piece but added, “As always, I’m happy to fight back.”

A question submitted in March by Peter Fortune, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, found that the GLA had paid Imperial College Projects almost £900,000 between 2021 and March 2023, with Mr. Kelly’s Environmental Research Group (ERG) research included in that funding.

Transport for London said in September that a study by the ERG, titled London Health Burden of Current Air Pollution and Future Health Benefits of Mayoral Air Quality Policies, was given £45,000 in funding.

Mr. Fortune said: “Science relies on open, transparent debate. It is unacceptable that Sadiq Khan and his deputy conspired to silence legitimate research because it would damage the mayor’s reputation and credibility.

“Sadiq Khan has claimed he is just following the science, yet he has been using scientific advisers to protect his own interests.

“The mayor’s own independent impact assessment shows the ULEZ expansion will have a negligible effect on air quality while hitting the poorest Londoners hardest. That is why we need to tackle air pollution where it is, instead of taxing where it isn’t.”

Posting via X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on August 20, Mr. Fortune added, “The mayor’s office certainly shouldn’t be dictating emails for press releases or squashing dissent.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Khan said: “It is right, and standard practice across government, that we commission experts to carry out research to inform the work we do. Frank Kelly and the Environmental Research Group at Imperial are some of the world-leading academic institutions looking at air quality.”

The spokeswoman also said that it was “normal and proper” to work with experts on policy issues, to assure the best response.

She added, “It is commonplace for academic experts to disagree with how other academic studies are interpreted, as was the case here.”

The mayor’s office stated that Mr. Kelly and his team are independent academics, whose work is not influenced by the funding bodies they work with.

Howard Cox, founder of pressure group FairFuel and Reform Party candidate for the London Mayoral race, told The Epoch Times via text, “Khan knew the science does not support the ULEZ expansion.”

He added that this latest incident proves; “the scheme is just a pure cash grab hitting the poorest and small businesses hardest.”

“Last weekend’s revelation further serves to prove what my colleagues and I have been saying for many months now.

Council leader for Bromley, Colin Smith, said: “ULEZ has very little, if anything, to do with health and in nothing less than a barely disguised socially regressive tax which is now set to destroy businesses, jobs and vital social support networks across the whole of Outer ‘London’ and parts of the neighbouring Home Counties too.

“I have very little doubt that there is still more news to break on this emerging scandal, which will make the mayor’s intended rollout next week, look even less tenable and more unjustified than it does today, and with that in mind, I really do think we’ve reached the point, where the secretary of state, Mr. Mark Harper, needs to step in and take immediate direct action to stop this nonsense in its tracks now. That is certainly the view and message that many of my colleagues share and are transmitting as well.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to the Mayor’s Office for further comment.

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  1. That man is a creep and he needs to go as do all these globalists who are pushing an agenda that is a lie they concocted to allow them to bully and deprive people and restrict there movement opportunity and progress. This needs sorting by termination of the lot of them because that is the only way to stop these creatures it is us or them and it is not going to be us. That is the correct way to think about this if you have any intelligence.


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