In the Evening Standard last week, Ken Livingstone’s No.2, Val Shawcross, was quoted as saying, “You’re elected to represent the public interest and that’s what you do.”
In what way was Livingstone acting in the public interest when, during his tenure as mayor, he imposed over 1000 new sets of traffic lights on London’s streets (at an average cost per set of £150,000 and with running costs on top)? Some were at tiny crossings such as Berwick St and Eastcastle St, conjuring congestion where there was none before.
Livingstone’s record on interventionist traffic control (which blocks flow, causes congestion, produces lethal conflict, kills cyclists, etc) is pitiful, perhaps criminal. Air pollution from vehicle emissions causes ten times as many deaths as road traffic “accidents”. Yet outside Camden Town Hall, traffic lights were left operating as normal at the junction of Midland Rd/Euston Rd, even though Midland Road was closed for seven years for work on the St Pancras tunnel link. As head of TfL, the mayor has a duty to reduce seven key emissions, so in what way was Livingstone acting in the public interest by taking no action during those seven years? (I lived in King’s Cross at the time, had increasing respiratory problems, and lobbied Camden’s environment chief to no avail.)
On 24 May 2005 (when Bob Dylan was only 64), particulates at a monitoring site on the Marylebone Road exceeded standards for the 36th day that year, breaking EU law. With air pollution in London off the scale (and Imperial College saying that monitoring told only half the story, i.e. air quality was twice as bad as the level deemed dangerous by EU environmentalists), what was Livingstone’s “solution”? A 24-hour bus lane producing longer-lasting congestion.
An additional negative legacy is the odious congestion charge, a public disservice that was premature because it was imposed before filter-in-turn on Equality Streets was even tried. It sucks up vast sums of public money and produces nothing but aggravation and higher living costs.
If Londoners want a repeat performance of taxpayer-funded prestidigitation cloaking health, economic and environmental damage, with no tangible common good to show for it, let them re-elect him.