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Opinion: It’s the poorest who will be hit hardest

PUBLISHED: 08:30 06 June 2020

Cllr Michael Maurice is angry about TfL reinstating the Congestion Charge.

Cllr Michael Maurice is angry about TfL reinstating the Congestion Charge.

Archant

We are near the end of week 11 of lockdown due to coronavirus.

Many people have lost loved ones, some have lost their jobs, many have been furloughed, some may lose their businesses and possibly even their homes.

To their credit, the government has done as much as it can to support businesses and workers, paying 80 per cent of salaries and 80pc of the profits for the self employed.

We have been told that, in order to eradicate this awful disease, to self isolate and maintain social distancing. We have been advised to use our cars and avoid public transport. TfL rightly suspended the Congestion Charge and the ULEZ to enable essential workers to get to their place of work. All councils either stopped or greatly reduced enforcing the parking regulations in order to help people buy essential goods for themselves and the more vulnerable in society.

We have been castigating and in some cases prosecuting some retailers who have bumped up prices of the goods they sell.

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We are now told that theatres and West End restaurants have suffered so badly they may have to close permanently. So just when things look like they might begin to get back to normal, what does Brent Council do? It reintroduces parking enforcement, meaning people may now be put off going to the shops. And as most shops have social distancing measures in place and the queues mean waiting times are greater, it becomes almost impossible to work out how long you need to park – and, of course, if you overstay your time, you may well come back to see the dreaded yellow pouch stuck on your windscreen, letting you know that Brent Council is about to take more of your hard earned money.

Of course you wouldn’t expect TfL not to jump on the bandwagon; it too has decided to try and boost its coffers by ending the suspension of the Congestion Charge and the ULEZ and, to make matters worse, TfL is hiking up the cost (they say temporarily) of the Congestion Charge by 30pc and increasing its hours of operation by 50pc. So to admonish and prosecute traders who increased their prices during the pandemic and then to hike up the price of the Congestion Charge smacks of hypocrisy and double standards.

If the theatres have to permanently close, it will mean thousands will lose their jobs. The knock on effects will be enormous. The operational times and increased Congestion Charge will mean people will be put off driving into London, but nor will they want to use public transport. So they just won’t go, which of course means less income for the theatres and restaurants.

The mayor has said he has done this because TfL has lost 90pc of its revenue over the last few months. Well Mr Mayor, I’ve got some news for you, so have thousands of other people and businesses, except they won’t be getting a £1.6bn payout!

And who gets hit the hardest by Labour’s Brent Council and Labour Mayor of London? That’s right, the poorest in our society and communities.

Which just goes to show you really are worse off under Labour!


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