Stephen Knight AM, Liberal Democrat London Assembly environment spokesperson, commenting on the Mayor’s replies to extensive questioning he faced at today’s Mayor’s Question Time on ‘dieselgate’ and theuse of ‘defeat device’ software to manipulate emission test vehicles said:
“Today the Mayor has admitted he hasn’t got a clue as to how many diesel cars are on London’s roads that have software creating fiddled emission results.
“However an even bigger issue is the message that the Mayor is currently sending out to people purchasing cars over the next few years.
“At present the Mayor and TfL know full well that Euro 6 diesels are not actually clean, but are still planning to permit them to enter the Ultra Low Emission Zone for free after 2020.
“”The Mayor should admit past mistakes and now say that we are no longer going to put a badge of ‘ultra low-emission’ on a set of vehicles that are in reality nothing of the sort.”
“The only vehicles that should count as ultra-low-emission compliant should be vehicles tested in real-world tests. In practice it would give absolute clarity to car-drivers and fleet-owners to simply say that the ULEZ will be diesel free.”
“If the Mayor fails to take that step he might as well change the name of the Ultra Low Emission Zone to simply the ‘slightly lower emission zone’.
Notes to editors:
Details of today’s Mayor’s Question Time and Stephen Knight’s questioning to the Mayor can be seen at https://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/london-assembly/webcasts starting at 38 minutes into the recording.
Stephen Knight, Liberal Democrat London Assembly economic spokesperson, commenting on today’s announcement on permitted development rights for office buildings said:
“I am shocked at the Mayor of London’s enthusiastic support for these changes.
“The announcement might keep in place respite for the City of London and the London Central Activities Zone, but it will force businesses out of London’s many town centres, especially in outer London.
“The big picture that the Mayor is ignoring is that permitted development rights are now being made permanent, when instead the whole policy should have been stopped. No longer will developers have to provide affordable housing at part of their schemes.
“It was regrettable that planning powers were ever taken away from London Boroughs leading to commercial sites being able to convert to residential use without any need to seek planning permission or provide affordable homes. The policy is leading to town centres having businesses and jobs ripped out of them by homes that don’t require planning permission so are often lacking in minimum standards, let alone providing any affordable homes, or other social infrastructure such as schools.
“London needs more homes but this policy is certainly not the answer. Driving up the cost of property and reducing opportunities for new businesses and jobs is the last thing the capital needs.”
Notes to editors:
1. Details of today’s Government announcement:
2. The Mayor of London’s statement on today’s Government announcement:
Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commenting on the discovering by Architects’ Journal that the earlier version of the audit review into the awarding of design contact to Heatherwick Studio was significantly different and far more critical to the published version said:
“Nailing jelly to a wall would be a far easier task than getting to the bottom of the exact process of how Transport for London awarded the design and development services for the Temple to South Bank Footbridge Project to Heatherwick Studio.”
“Despite repeated questioning of both the Mayor and TfL and some excellent investigative reporting by Architects’ Journal it is clear a great deal of information is still being held back.
“It seems that TfL’s audit of the procurement process went through a sanitising process before its publication that Alistair Campbell would be proud of.”
“Far from the investigation process into the procurement process being over I believe it has only started.
“To finally reveal the true process that was followed by TfL under their instructions from the Mayor of London I believe it might now be time for the London Assembly to hold more evidence sessions and directly question the person who carried out the audit process.”
Notes to editors:
- Today’s report by Architects’ Journal:
Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commenting on the Mayoral Decision to spend a further £1 million of Transport for London’s resources on ‘aviation related matters’, bringing the total budget for work on aviation up to £6.2 million said:
“Once again the Mayor is throwing good money after bad on aviation.
“The Mayor should be explaining why he has already blown over £5 million of TfL’s valuable resources pursuing his misguided ideas for a Thames Estuary airport.
“Instead he is robbing TfL of even further resources.
“Six million pounds could have been far better spent on transport projects that would actually benefit Londoners.”
“From extending the cycle hire scheme into south east London through to delivering step free access at more Tube stations there are literally dozens of ways in which valuable TfL’s resources could have been better spent.”
Notes to editors:
The Mayoral Decision published today directing TfL to spend a further £1 million on aviation work can be seen here:
https://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/mayor/mayoral-decisions/MD1544(see paragraph 1.8)
Stephen Knight, Liberal Democrat London Assembly environment spokesperson, commenting on the diesel emissions fixing scandal facing Volkswagen said:
“The unfolding VW emissions fixing scandal is clearly demonstrating that, despite what motor manufacturers have been claiming, there is no such thing as a clean diesel car. Real-world tests show that so-called "clean" (Euro 6) diesels actually emit many times more poisonous gases than they are legally entitled to.
"The Mayor Boris Johnson's current proposals for his 'Ultra Low Emission Zone' (ULEZ) count Euro 6 diesel cars as 'ultra low emission vehicles' allowed to enter central London free of charge. This policy clearly now hangs in tatters and must be revised.
“It is now abundantly clear that no diesel cars should be allowed to enter the ULEZ zone from 2020.
"Central London, like Paris, must become a diesel-free zone."
Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commenting on the announcement by Transport for London that they will install opening windows on the new routemasters at a further cost of around £2 million said:
“Anything to make travelling on the new routemasters more bearable during the Summer is obviously welcome. These buses are quite frankly a cauldron on wheels during hot weather.
“However the Mayor must now explain why the needs of passengers were overlooked when he decided to purchase these incredibly expensive buses.
“It simply beggars belief that such expensive buses were ever purchased by the Mayor and TfL with such a basic design fault.”
Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commenting on the internal audit of the procurement design and development services for the Garden Bridge said:
"This audit has sadly not been thorough and forensic.
“While it rightly highlights a number of areas where the process for awarding contracts needs to improve the audit is ultimately incomplete due to TfL destroying vital records.
“It is staggering that despite serious questions about the evaluation scores for the tenders TfL thought there was nothing wrong in destroying vital documentation just before the audit was set to take place.
“TfL’s claim that the audit has not found any evidence that value for money was not provided is nonsensical when vital documents could not be examined.
“TfL should be providing evidence that value for money was actually delivered. That test has not been met by this audit.”
Notes to editors:
TfL’’s internal audit of the design and development for the Temple to South Bank Footbridge Project can be seen here:
The audit into the awarding of the design contract for the Garden Bridge was commissioned by Sir Peter Hendy at the request of Caroline Pidgeon. Sir Peter Hendy’s decision to undertake an audit was not shared by the Mayor of London who refused to support an audit.
Commenting on a new report by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment, which shows that every major car manufacturer is selling diesel cars that fail to meet EU air pollution limits on the road in Europe, whilst selling cars with better exhaust treatment systems and lower emissions in the US, Liberal Democrat London Assembly environment spokesperson Stephen Knight AM said:
"It is shocking that the manufacturers can't be bothered to fit proper exhaust treatment systems on the diesel cars they sell in Europe but do fit them when forced to do so by the US authorities. This demonstrates that the manufacturers couldn't care less about the dangerous pollution their diesel cars are producing and simply do the minimum they can get away with to meet legal requirements.
"The EU needs to tighten its regulations to force the manufacturers to clean up their vehicles and until then we must shame the manufacturers into fitting the same exhaust treatment systems to their European models that they already fit to cars sold in the US."
Notes to editors:
Transport and Environment Report: http://www.transportenvironment.org/press/just-one-10-new-diesel-cars-clean-legal-limit-report-finds
Stephen Knight AM, Liberal Democrat London Assembly economic spokesperson, commenting on the decision by Oliver Bonas to become the first high street fashion chain in the UK to become an accredited Living Wage employer, said:
“The retail sector is sadly dominated by very low paying, insecure jobs. It is therefore significant when a high street fashion retailer like Oliver Bonas with stores across London in places such as Battersea, Cheapside, Clapham, Crouch End, Dulwich, Ealing, Kingston, Hampstead, Islington, Kensington, Putney and Richmond pledges to pay the London Living Wage.”
“The problem is that most employers so far signing up to the Living Wage have been organisations that had very few low paid employees in the first place, like banks and insurance firms. The vast majority of low paid employees work in sectors like hospitality and catering, cleaning, social care and retail. These are the sectors where we most need employers to raise their wages.
“Oliver Bonas has now set down a challenge to other retail companies to raise their wages too.”
Caroline Pidgeon AM, Liberal Democrat London Assembly transport spokesperson, commenting on the announcement that the launch of the Night Tube has been deferred said:
"This is a big climb down for the Mayor. His retreat is entirely due to his error in setting a specific start date before all the staffing arrangements and other issues had been settled.
"By pushing for a set start date the Mayor strengthened the union’s negotiating position.
"The Mayor must now also come clean and explain when the expected changes to Night Buses will take place.
"It would be totally wrong if any Night Bus routes see a cut in their weekend service before the start of the Night Tube."