As we reach the deadline to Stop-ULEZ there is a lot going on, the anti-ULEZ campaign is hotting up along with the weather. Protests, interviews, political u-turns and pressure are making it a fiery end to the Summer.
Well, August was off to a good start with a protest in Wallington High Street on Tuesday lunchtime. This one followed the suggestion by Rishi Sunak that he would be reassessing Net Zero targets and reviewing low traffic neighbourhoods. It was attended by a good crowd and had more support than ever from passing motorists and locals with Channel 4 news and Brown Car Guy doing interviews, and even Piers Corbyn turned up, but then again, he does love a protest!
Saturday 5th August was the date for another Trafalgar Square protest but with the weather forecasts saying heavy rain and high winds all day, and many people away for Summer holidays, it could have been better attended. However as usual there were plenty people there and the usual noise and exuberance. The crowd walked to Downing Street and there were opportunities for press interviews. Alan Miller of #togetherdec and Howard Cox were amongst the many attendees.
On 12th August there was a lively protest in Bromley town centre. This again was well attended, and included all the Anti-ULEZ vehicles which had formed a convoy and travelled from the M25. There was almost a party atmosphere with plenty of noise, music and huge support from the pedestrians, shoppers and passing traffic. However the event was marred by the malicious actions of one local man who was seen acting suspiciously around the area off the road where a few of the anti-ULEZ vehicles had parked for the event. The vehicles were not blocking roads, entrances or pathways but this individual decided he wasn’t happy with either the parking, the noise or the sentiment, so took a sharp blade and punctured several tyres on each of 6 vehicles causing thousands of pounds worth of damage. The person was seen with a weapon in his hand, photographs were taken and the police called. The man was later arrested and the case is on-going. It was a sad end to a great day – it was unnecessary, wasteful and inconvenient to all as the vehicles could not be moved in a timely fashion. The Anti-ULEZ protests have always been non violent and peaceful so this action really hurt. The community has come together to help those affected with the cost of the replacement tyres and we are all extremely grateful. It won’t be forgotten, it has brought people closer and made them more determined that ever to keep up the fight.
The 12th August was also the last day of Prabhdeep Singh’s Stop ULEZ Hunger Strike – Fight2Survive – outside Uxbridge station and after the Bromley protest, and once a few tyres had been replaced, many of the anti-ULEZ campaigners travelled to Uxbridge to join him as he broke his fast and Brown Car Guy was there to record the moment. This is an incredible story and has raised ULEZ as an issue that affects so many more people than just those inside London.
On Monday the 14th August, Keir Starmer, previous supporter of ULEZ and all things Just Stop Oil, came out and said “proposals for reducing air pollution should not have a disproportionate impact on people’s pockets during the cost-of-living crisis”. He is clearly concerned about his poll ratings and Labour have removed a commitment to clean air zones from a key policy document and said it won’t be in their manifesto.
The pressure is on now and politicians are starting to see ULEZ and the wider implications as something they need to address if they want to take people with them.
We still have local mid week protests, one in Carshalton last week, North Cheam next week, but the bigger protests to come are in Orpington on 19th and a big Ride to Freedom on 20th – Bikers to Rykas Ride Out to Box Hill from Ace Cafe. This is likely to be a big event with a lot of support from the biking community – more details on the link. The last event of the month (for now) is a protest in Sadiq Khan’s home town of Tooting, this is taking place at Tooting Broadway station at midday on Saturday 26th.
The Blade Runners continue their operations under the radar and have made the news with a particularly impressive bit of gardening that was caught on a phone camera. TFL won’t say how many ULEZ cameras have been taken down but Julie’s Mapping Team are taking notes! The juliemaps.co.uk website is now live but still a work in progress.
Whilst all this has been going on, the White case being dealt with by Crowd Justice has made some progress and has made a paper application on August 9th to the High Court for an injunction, so we await further information on this with great interest.