Cllr Joe Carlebach is a councillor for Avonmore and Brook Green Ward.
I have no doubt of the very real problems caused by pollution from many forms of transport that we all take for granted. This specifically includes the huge problem of of aviation emissions and diesel particulates.What I have a problem with is the way our Labour Council is trying to address this issue.
The way this tax has been constructed will have a disproportionate impact on those members of our community who can least afford it and that is frankly unfair and unjust.For example I have seen examples of residents on the Council’s Housing waiting list, living on the breadline in overcrowded rented accommodation. They work in the transport industry as taxi drives, many on zero hours contracts.They have to pay for their own vehicles and their own fuel. Some have been forced in recent times to use food banks. These people can simply not afford this tax.
I have had representation from other families, those with disabled children. They must have a car to be able to transport their children around. Many have diesel cars partly because they had been told this was the ‘greenest’ form of transport by the Government in the recent past, and for reasons of economy. They are not entitled to blue badges because their children are mobile but these families are desperately trying to manage their children’s significant disabilities. These are not wealthy people and again they can ill afford the cruelly escalating tax the Council has seen fit to imposed on them.
We can not ignore the suffering of those with chronic illness as a result of pollution, this is as I understand it, which is apparently the rational for this tax. I am therefore at a loss to understand why the Council has not done more to offer any form of support these residents.
I am told they have not made any effort to work with any of the major health Trusts in our area, improving access and care at respiratory clinics, or paediatric respiratory initiatives in schools or within primary care.This is indeed a missed opportunity.
Neither has the Council done anything to manage or reduce traffic congestion which is now out of control across London and especially in our Borough. Nor have they done anything to incentivise drivers not to leave their engines running whilst stationary, all major contributors to poor air quality.
I very much regret that the Council has chosen to simply tax unfortunate residents ratcheting up the cost until their pain is too much to bare. The Council has also created stress and uncertainty within our community by not making it clear if this new tax is to be levied on diesel vehicles on Estates or parked in Garages on our Estates.In short this is a poorly thought out tax which has the feeling of political correctness rather than a genuine effort to reduce pollution.
The Council is living in a dream world of they think the many residents who will be hardest hit by this tax can just go out and by another car, never mind an electric one. They simply do not have the money. They can barely get by as it is.There is a perverse logic at work here that impacts least the very wealthy at the cost of those who are significantly financially challenged and are the least able to pay any more in tax. It simply can not be right to clobber the drivers of a small old diesel cars with these spiralling charges knowing that they are unaffordable whilst leaving the drivers of very large new and expensive luxury cars unscathed.
I strongly urge the Council to rethink this unfair tax, to think carefully about its unacceptable impact on those residents who can least afford it and go back to the drawing board. They should do this now before you cause any more distress.
I have a diesel car because the last Labour government encouraged me to buy one. Now they have changed their minds I am OK to pay LBHF £30 a year extra if they also charge £30 a year to every diesel car from outside the borough that drives through or parks here because they also contribute to our local pollution – I think that’s fair.