This afternoon I spoke on behalf of residents in Carshalton and Wallington during the debate on Labour Mayor Khan's proposals for an outer London border tax, which would hit families and workers in areas like ours crossing between London and Surrey.
The Labour Mayor of London’s plans to charge people to enter the Greater London area by car would be a disaster felt both by those who live just outside the boundary and those who live in communities such as ours, just within it.
Carshalton and Wallington sits on the border with Surrey. Under the Mayor of London’s plans, our quiet little spot would suddenly become some kind of outer London checkpoint or toll road. Residents living just on the wrong side of the line would be charged up to £5.50 a day for driving across it. To be clear, TfL’s estimate is that up to 82 per cent of the expected revenue would be lost in the overhead and implementation, so there is likely to be pressure to increase the charge from day one in order to make the scheme worthwhile.
Although residents living inside the boundary, such as my constituents, might not be the ones facing the charge, the impact could be equally damaging, not least on family life. Like many families, my dad and several of my relatives live just outside the Greater London boundary. Suddenly, they will be charged for crossing the boundary to come and visit. We also need to think about families who rely on another family member for childcare, who could be charged up to £1,000 a year.
One of the issues that this proposal could end up having the greatest impact on is health. It is fantastic news that the Government have given the go-ahead to a £500 million investment to improve Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals, and to build a new third hospital in Sutton, which will benefit patients not just from Sutton and Merton but from Surrey. However, patients, NHS staff and visitors coming to the new Sutton hospital from Surrey would face a daily charge to cross the boundary. It is no good saying that people will find alternative methods of transport. Public transport between outer London and the home counties is notoriously poor, because TfL and the county councils do not have good working relationships with one another. Bus services from Sutton into Surrey are not nearly frequent enough, and there is absolutely no discussion of funds being used to address that.
The policy has generated a lot of concern from my constituents. The outer London boundary charge would hit families, the economy and our public services, and would punish not just Londoners this time but those who live just outside the capital too. I am really pleased that our Conservative London Assembly candidate, Neil Garratt, has been supporting Shaun Bailey in opposing this move. I have urged the Minister to do all she can to ensure that the Mayor scraps the plan and does not punish Londoners for the cost of Khan.
You can watch my contribution above, or read a transcript of the full debate here.