Sadiq Khan was today accused of risking lives and forcing people out of their cars and on to the Tube where social distancing is ‘impossible’ because of a lack of trains after he brought back the central London congestion charge from Monday and jacked it up to £15 from £11.50 in June.
The Mayor of London has also announced that from next month the daily charge, introduced by Ken Livingstone in 2003, will for the first time be imposed on weekends and extended out of rush hour from 6pm to 10pm – just hours after accepting a £1.6billion taxpayer-funded bailout.
But MailOnline exclusively reveal that Mr Khan dodged London’s packed underground system and was picked up from home in his taxpayer-funded chauffeur-driven £100,000 Range Rover followed by his security detail in a £60,000 Land Rover discovery.
Motorists in London will again have to pay the £11.50 congestion charge again from Monday, a fortnight earlier than expected, after it was suspended at the start of the lockdown to make it easier for key workers to get around. The £12.50-a-day Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge for older and more polluting vehicles will also return next week.
From June 1, when the lockdown is expected to be eased further Boris Johnson, the daily congestion charge will rise from £11.50 to £15 – a 30 per cent hike. And from June 22 it will then be enforced seven days a week, and until 10pm, for the first time. NHS workers will be able to claim it back, City Hall said.
The Mayor of London also said there will be include fare rises from January – after four straight years of freezes – and a temporary end to free travel for London’s 1.5million schoolchildren and no free peak travel for the over-60s while the lockdown continues.
Mr Khan claimed today’s congestion charge announcement was imposed on him on by the Government and complained that the £1.1billion grant and £505million loan agreed by Boris Johnson last night is a ‘bad deal’, describing it as ‘sticking plaster’, with City Hall sources suggesting more taxpayers’ cash might be needed within 80 days.
He said: ‘I want to be completely honest and upfront with Londoners – this is not the deal I wanted. But it was the only deal the Government put on the table and I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running’.
There is anger and disbelief among Londoners who have been forced to drive to work to protect their family from coronavirus because of a lack of social distancing on public transport. Mr Khan has also been shamed by pictures from European capitals such as Berlin, where 100% of Tube services have been running for weeks with staff on hand to give out free face masks to all passengers.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told MailOnline: ‘The Labour Mayor of London seems to be everything he can to sabotage the capital’s economic recovery from the Covid-crisis. First it was a lack of public transport services in cahoots with his union paymasters and now this. This risks forcing more people on to the Tube and increasing the rate of infection again. What is Khan thinking? Londoners might wonder whose side he’s on’.
Conservative London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey said: ‘Continuing to blame Government for his own financial negligence is not leadership. It’s playing politics. The Mayor is lying when he says the Government have forced this u-turn. He had planned a fares increase as early as last year. Most Londoners are now grateful that the terms of Sadiq Khan’s humiliating bailout should now limit the damage he is able to inflict on our transport network for the duration of his term in office.’
Sadiq Khan’s extraordinary tax rise during the coronavirus crisis came as:
- There is growing confusion over the lockdown measures after new data suggests just 24 people a day in London are catching coronavirus;
- Boris Johnson wants a health drive to slash obesity after admitting his own 17st weight made his coronavirus bout more severe;
- The lockdown will be tested again with more fine weather predicted and towns and villages in national parks or by the coast fearing a flood of visitors. There has also been a rush of people to second homes;
- The fierce row between the Government and teaching unions is intensifying as the battle over whether primary schools can reopen on June 1 rages;
Sadiq Khan is swept away from his London home in this £100,000 Range Rover today as others crammed on to the Tube
Mr Khan wore a face covering as he was picked up as the row over his decision to hike the congestion charge raged
The Mayor was followed through the streets of Central London by his security detail in a £60,000 Land Rover discovery.
Catholic Priest Father Grant Ciccone ddposted this picture of the packed Jubilee Line this morning as the first working week as the lockdown eased ends today
Despite Sadiq Khan urging people to stay at home and avoid the Tube, millions are returning to their workplaces (pictured in Canning Town today), the Mayor of London today hiked the price of the congestion charge to £15 and extended it to weekends
Traffic coming into London on the A4 was also busy this morning as more and more people return to work if they can’t do it at home
Londoners are angry and perplexed at the plans to up the congestion charge when they are being urged to stay away from the Tube
Apple Mobility data shows that travel is down in London since the lockdown began – but is creeping upwards when services are not
TomTom traffic data shows that car travel is up about 4% up each day this week as more people went to work
How is Transport for London funded and why did Mayor Khan claim it would go bust without a bailout?
Transport for London claims the coronavirus crisis will lead to losses of £4billion and is costing them £600million a month.
Its £2.2billion reserves are said to be down to £1.2billion and going down further. To cut costs bosses have put 7,000 staff on the taxpayer-funded furlough scheme.
Just under half of TfL’s annual £10billion income comes from fares, with £4.9billion spent each year on buses, trains and Tube services.
But because of the lockdown this income is down 95 per cent over the last eight weeks and predicted to be low until the autumn as more people work from home, tourists stay away and the nighttime economy being decimated.
The next largest source of income is grants from the Government, for which it is paid £3.4billion-a-year, including to pay for building the Crossrail project.
TfL also makes £1.2billion a year from the congestion charge, but this £11.50 per vehicle charge has been suspended through the pandemic.
It also brings hundreds of millions a year from advertising and renting out shops in its stations.
Sadiq Khan has said that TfL may be forced to issue a Section 114 notice – issued when a public body going bust.
But Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey, said: ‘Sadiq Khan has failed in his job as chairman of Transport for London. Coronavirus highlighted existing structural flaws within TfL’s balance sheet – it is not the primary cause.
‘It is simply wrong for Sadiq Khan to then use Londoners – and key workers, making critical journeys – as collateral to get a bailout to cover his mismanagement and bad decision making.
‘The past four years have proven Khan cannot be handed a blank cheque. As a condition for any bailout, Khan must show Londoners how he will rebuild TfL’s finances once the virus recedes’.
Mr Khan, wearing a black face mask, travelled to his office at City Hall in a luxury Range Rover from his South London home as Tube passengers once again struggled to follow social distancing guidelines on packed carriages this morning.
The son of a London bus driver, he is believed to have been forced to travel by car because he is one of Britain’s most high profile Muslims which has led to threats against him.
Boris Johnson famously cycled to work or used the Tube when he was Mayor, while his predecessor Ken Livingstone also used public transport but was also known for using black cabs.
This morning Mr Khan was masked as he left his house, but neither his driver or front seat companion wore face coverings.
Two armed police protection officers, Who travelled in a follow-up vehicle, also failed to wear masks.
Mr Khan had said Transport for London was hours from going bust and blamed Boris Johnson for no social distancing on trains by easing the lockdown this week.
Downing Street refused to slam Sadiq Khan over the congestion charge return and price rise.
Asked if the 30 per cent rise was fair, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: ‘We said that people should work from home where they can and avoid public transport wherever possible, including through increased walking and cycling to work.
‘The congestion charge is an important tool to ensure that emissions in London remain low, and supports better air quality. It only applies in the small area of central London where congestion is most acute and where the roads would come to a halt without it.
‘TfL has been clear that NHS and care workers will be exempt from the congestion charge.’
Tube services will reach 70 per cent of a full service from Monday, Mr Khan has said after a deal with the unions.
But in European cities, including in Coronavirus hit Italy and Spain, has been at 100 per cent for weeks.
A spokesperson for the RMT union told MailOnline: ‘People are scared and people are saying “why is it that on Tubes and buses people can break social distancing, but the at the same time the government are trying to keep people apart in parks?”.
They added that ramping up transport services to 70 per cent ‘is not the issue, the issue is the number of passengers’.
They said workers would have to ‘wait to see’ the situation on Monday, but was not optimistic about the two-metre rule being obeyed.
‘We have an agreement in writing as part of the Coronavirus Forum with government and rail operators that come Monday, May 18 when services are jacked up, social distancing will be maintained,’ they said.
‘And we have said to our members that they should not work in conditions where they feel unsafe. That’s not a strike, that’s their legal right.’
London: Commuter Michael Maggs tweeted this picture of a packed Tube carriage at 6am this morning and said: ‘@SadiqKhan how we meant to social distance with your terrible service you are running. Had to wait 15 mins to get in this. You are putting lives at risk’.
Paris: Metro trains have been plastered with stickers showing people where to stand and sit to maintain social distancing, while almost all commuters appeared to be wearing face masks
Milan: Passengers keep safe distance as they ride on the train of the green line of the Metro where trains have been marked up with safe distance stickers
Barcelona: Commuters receive face masks distributed by Red Cross volunteers in a train station in Spain where the lockdown was eased slightly today
Berlin: The BVG network (pictured) and Cologne’s KVG network have both been running regular schedules since May 4 and May 11 respectively, while commuters have been encouraged to use them for regular journeys
London’s reproduction rate is now just 0.4, with fewer than 24 people becoming infected every day. If cases continue to decrease at the current rate the virus will be virtually eradicated in the capital by June
London’s coronavirus R rate was already falling BEFORE lockdown was introduced on March 23
London’s R – the average number of people each COVID-19 patient infects – fell from 3 to 2.3 in before lockdown on March 23, most likely because of simple social distancing and home working measures. Deaths hit their peak in April before plummeting by May
The coronavirus infection rate in London was already falling before the country went into lockdown, data shows.
Analysis by Public Health England and Cambridge University calculated the crucial reproduction rate, known as the R, peaked at 3 in the capital in late February.
It suggests that COVID-19’s ability to spread was already severely hampered by simple social distancing and home working measures introduced a week earlier.
Epidemiologists tell MailOnline more white collar jobs in London meant more employees were able to abide by the work from home rules and isolate from others, making it easier to shut the virus out of the capital.
The analysis also suggests the R in London tumbled below 1 just days after lockdown, when the number of new cases began halving every three-and-a-half days.
London’s reproduction rate is now just 0.4, with fewer than 24 people becoming infected every day. If cases continue to decrease at the current rate the virus will be virtually eradicated in the capital by June.
The team’s model says only one death occurs in every 160 cases. This suggests, at the current rate, London’s daily death toll will drop to a consistent level of zero in three weeks, which is the average time lag between someone being diagnosed, their condition becoming deadly and their death being recorded.
London’s crisis is in stark contrast to the rest of the UK, where the R is closer to 1 – the dangerous level at which the disease could spiral out of control again. MPs said last night the data highlights the need to ease lockdown on a region by region basis.
Ministers last night agreed to hand the Labour Mayor a £1.1billion grant plus £505million in loans with ‘strings attached’ to get London’s transport system back up and running – hours after Mr Khan was accused of blackmail and repeatedly asking for £2billion in return for getting services back up to 70 per cent of pre-crisis levels by Monday.
A Government source has attacked Mr Khan as a ‘profligate’ mayor ‘who had let money go to waste’ after four years of fare freezes. ‘There are a lot of strings attached,’ the insider added, including future ticket price hikes and curtailing free travel for the over-60s.
Millions have returned to work this week and the number of passengers on the London Underground is up ten per cent in a week, leading to ‘dangerous’ conditions because services have been running at as low as 15 per cent of capacity.
Commuter Michael Maggs tweeted a picture of a packed Tube carriage at 6am this morning and said: ‘@SadiqKhan how we meant to social distance with your terrible service you are running. Had to wait 15 mins to get in this. You are putting lives at risk’.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has said he ‘wouldn’t’ get on a busy tube train.
Mr Lewis told LBC that he ‘would probably think about finding a bike and jumping on a Boris bike and cycling across London’.
Asked whether the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan blackmailed the Government into giving more money to TfL, Mr Lewis said: ‘Look I think the public around London can inform their own views around the appropriateness of the way the current Mayor acts.
‘I would like to make sure and see a Mayor who is focused on delivering for the people of London.’
Pushed on whether there will be exemptions to the 14-day quarantine period for people including business travellers, Mr Lewis said: ‘There will be a 14-day quarantine. What we’re looking at is the exemptions which are appropriate and are safe to put in place to ensure it is practical as well as safe.’
Fears have been rising for workers packed on to Tube and buses that are running at a significantly reduced capacity as Boris Johnson encouraged people to go back to work.
Government sources said the mayor had demanded £2billion but was turned down ‘several times’. The sides have settled for a £1.1billion package plus £505m in loans which ‘will need to be paid back’.
As part of the agreement, TfL will have to restore full services ‘as soon as possible’ although there is no fixed timetable, and the government will also approve advertising on TfL. ‘He will be taking ‘stay alert’ not ‘stay at home’,’ the source said.
TfL will have to report on staff absences, which are currently said to be running at 20 per cent.
There will also be a central government review of TfL’s finances and fares will increase by RPI plus 1 per cent, breaking the Mayor’s previous pledge to a freeze on fare rises, according to the source.
‘We were always prepared to put money into keeping Tube and bus services running in London and help the travelling public stay safe from coronavirus but we were not prepared to accept ludicrous demands from a profligate mayor, and this money comes with many strings attached,’ the source said.
Mr Khan is seeking re-election in the mayoral election postponed to next year although he is the runaway favourite to be turned to City Hall. Any price rise for travel is likely to be jumped upon by some of his opponents, but the Tories claim that his decision to freeze prices for four years fuelled the current TfL cash crisis.
Mr Khan has announced that he will increase Tube services in London to 70 per cent of normal on Monday – but only after threatening to cut Tube, train and bus services unless the Government stumped up cash.
He claimed that TFL would go bust unless the Government hands over cash to fill the £4billion black hole coronavirus has left in its finances because of an 80 per cent plunge in income from fares, advertising and the congestion charge.
But Mr Shapps said that the mayor would have to increase capacity back to 100 per cent ‘very quickly as people are starting to travel more, it is very, very important that we do not have overcrowding’.
TfL was already losing millions each month before the coronavirus and is billions in debt after Mr Khan’s decision to freeze fares every year since he was elected in 2016. He has also been accused of being too soft on militant transport unions and having the worst average strikes record of any Mayor.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (pictured in Downing Street in March) has launched an extraordinary attack on Boris Johnson and also warned he will cut Tube, train and bus services unless the PM agrees an emergency bailout by the end of today
Signs like these have been appearing at Tube stations – but more and more people are following instructions to head to work
The Central Line was dangerously rammed with commuters who had no choice but to go to work in packed carriages
Industry sources have claimed TfL is losing £600million a month during the crisis and wants £2billion in taxpayer-funded support even though bosses have £1.2billion in their cash reserves.
Coronavirus vaccine hope as Oxford University’s experimental jab prevents the infection from penetrating the lungs in monkeys
Hopes a coronavirus cure could be on the horizon were raised today after a vaccine developed in Britain showed promising signs in trials on monkeys.
The University of Oxford’s experimental jab strengthened the immune system in six rhesus macaques without causing any side effects.
Within 28 days of being vaccinated, all of the animals had COVID-19 antibodies – produced by the body to give it some immunity from the virus.
Researchers said the primates were able to fight off the virus before it penetrated deep into their lungs, where it can become deadly.
Scientists commenting on the study have described the findings as ‘very encouraging’, but warn it does not guarantee the same results in humans.
They found a single vaccination dose was also effective in preventing damage to the lungs in the study on monkeys and mice.
Some of the animals showed antibodies to the virus within two weeks, but all of them had the virus-fighting molecules within 28 days.
The researchers found viral loads in the lower respiratory system were significantly reduced in the animals given the vaccine.
Mr Khan told LBC: ‘Unless the government today gives us confirmation of the grant that we need, the consequences could be quite severe and the implications for all of us will be huge. The only way to balance the books is to cut services’.
Former Tory minister Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon, told MailOnline: ‘An extraordinary remark. He is threatening the health of Londoners by saying this sort of thing. We need to get the networks, the Tube and the London suburban network back up to full capacity. the mayor should concentrate on running as big a service as possible so people can travel socially distanced and in as responsible a way as possible.’
There has also been anger over Mr Khan’s comments on LBC yesterday morning, with one listener saying: ‘He is trying to blackmail the government and yes he is prepared to use the health and safety of London’s key workers as collateral for a bailout of his transport service’, while another critic tweeted: ‘It’s blackmail – just as people start to return to work’.
Mr Khan also suggested that the PM is to blame for the congestion on the Tube this week after tearing up an agreement that people would return to work from this coming Monday and bringing it forward a week at two hours’ notice.
Mr Khan told LBC: ‘Many of our staff are shielding, self-isolating or ill. We got to a stage where plan that we worked out with the Department for Transport and from Monday May 18 we would increase Tube services to 75 per cent and ramp it up again in three weeks. And then on Sunday we were presented with a fait accompli. I was in a Cobra meeting two hours before where he [Boris Johnson] told us this was his plan’.
The Mayor of London revealed that Tube passenger numbers are up 10 per cent today on last week – admitting that thousands more people were trying to get on trains. When asked about the shocking pictures of cramped carriages this morning he said: ‘It’s deeply upsetting. The reality is that every time somebody interacts with somebody on the street, in a shop or on a train it can increase the spread. That’s why we are urging people to stay at home’.
He also said employers should be taking responsibility for the lack of social distancing on public transport, by refusing to accept that ‘fear’ is a good reason not to come back to work. Mr Khan said: ‘Londoners are being told to return to work unless they have a good reason. I can understand when you’re on a zero hours contract or your boss is telling you to get to work you may go in. That’s why I’m imploring the Government to put pressure on employers to stagger the start to the day I don’t want to undo the work’.
Data published by location technology firm TomTom showed there was more traffic in the UK’s major cities compared with the previous week.
The congestion level in London at 8am was 19%, up from 16% last week.
Other cities to experience an increase include Belfast (from 12% to 15%), Birmingham (from 9% to 11%), Cardiff (from 8% to 11%), Edinburgh (from 12% to 15%) and Manchester (from 10% to 13%).
The figures represent the proportion of additional time required for journeys compared with free-flow conditions.
The Cabinet Office today refused to comment on claims that they had dropped their transport trends slide from the daily coronavirus press conference over recent weeks to hide the fact many more people were getting into their cars or taking public transport. A spokesman told MailOnline that the slides are online daily – and that are not always shown because ministers and health chiefs may want to ‘focus on other things’.
Tube bosses have put up station signs telling commuters to ‘go home’ unless they are key workers despite Boris Johnson telling millions of Britons to return to work, it was revealed today.
Transport for London’s foreboding ‘go home’ messages came amid the growing row with Downing Street who insist trains must return to normal to revive the economy while the Mayor of London says that ‘lockdown has not been lifted’.
Source: Daily Mail – Articles