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Andy Burnham accuses Boris Johnson of “playing dishonest politics” over Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone plans

Burnham also called for clarity regarding the government’s plans for low emissions zones, after the Prime Minister said “it is totally wrong to impose measures thoughtlessly”

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has hit back at Boris Johnson after the Prime Minister labelled plans for a clean air charging scheme “badly thought out” and “wrong”.

A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) was set to come into effect in Greater Manchester at the end of May, which would have introduced daily charges for high-emission vehicles ranging from £7.50 for taxis to £60 for HGVs, buses and coaches (private cars would have been exempt from the new scheme).

However, the scheme was put on hold earlier this month after a backlash from businesses over the cost of making vehicles compliant. Politicians in Greater Manchester are currently working with the government to design a “substantially different” system, which it is hoped will come into force by July.

> Greater Manchester air pollution worse than previously thought 

Yesterday at Prime Minister’s Questions, the Conservative councillor for Bury North, James Daly, asked Johnson if he agreed that Burnham’s plan “to impose a 493 square mile clean air charging zone” in Greater Manchester was “an attack on jobs and opportunity… based on flawed data and should be scrapped”. 

The Prime Minister – who abolished the western extension of the London Congestion Charging zone in 2010 – responded: “Yes, and as somebody who once had to deal with a badly thought-out low emission zone, it is totally wrong to impose measures thoughtlessly that damage business and do not do very much to protect clean air. 

“The Mayor of Greater Manchester has done the wrong thing, and I am glad we are delaying it.”

> Western extension of London Congestion Charging zone to be scrapped 

In a statement released after PMQs, Burnham criticised the government’s lack of clarity concerning the future of clean air schemes in the UK.

“The Prime Minister has got to stop playing dishonest politics with the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone,” he said.

“Only three weeks ago, his Government imposed a new legal direction on our councils mandating action. Yet today he pretends in Parliament that those letters were never sent.

“We will not put up with this any longer. We can’t have Ministers saying things to us in private which are then flatly contradicted by the Prime Minister at the Despatch Box.

“Are the Government requiring Greater Manchester to have a Clean Air Zone or not? They must give a straight answer to that question and they must do it today.”

> 'Traffic is not a force of nature': Boris Johnson praises success of Low Traffic Neighbourhood and cycle schemes 

In July last year, to mark the release of the government’s 'Gear Change One Year on' report, Johnson praised the success of active travel schemes in reducing the number of cars and increasing the number of cyclists on the road.

The Conservative leader also condemned critics of low traffic neighbourhoods who predicted that they would harm local businesses. 

Alongside the proposed Clean Air Zone, in 2018 Greater Manchester Mayor Burnham also pledged to invest £160m in cycling and walking infrastructure, with the aim of “kick-starting a major transformation of how people of all ages travel”. 

The Labour politician came in for some criticism from cycling circles in January after he called for changes to the Highway Code to be paused, while repeating a common misconception over one key rule aimed at making roads safer for people on bikes, by referring to people riding “in the middle of the road.” 

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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10 comments

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 1 year ago
5 likes

'an attack on jobs and opportunity… based on flawed data and should be scrapped”. 

Purposefully and deliberately erecting trade barriers and friction between the UK and the largest and richest free market on the planet, just thirty miles away is what exactly then . . . . .?

Avatar
HarrogateSpa | 1 year ago
9 likes

Dishonest politics is the only kind Mr Johnson knows.

While he isn't a war criminal, he is at least as dishonest as Vladimir Putin. Since Johnson is also putting forward voter suppression measures (photo ID), and trying to stack public roles with compliant Tory donors/supporters, there are several other similarities with Putin.

Avatar
Backladder replied to HarrogateSpa | 1 year ago
9 likes

Isn't it strange, Ukrane elected a comedian and got a true hero, we elected a politician and got a dishonest comedian.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to HarrogateSpa | 1 year ago
2 likes
HarrogateSpa wrote:

Dishonest politics is the only kind Mr Johnson knows.

While he isn't a war criminal, he is at least as dishonest as Vladimir Putin. Since Johnson is also putting forward voter suppression measures (photo ID), and trying to stack public roles with compliant Tory donors/supporters, there are several other similarities with Putin.

Steady on - I doubt Putin would want to be compared to Johnson!

The differences are large however many politicians have converged upon the same suite of ideas.  Putin, Trump and Johnson are notable examples, of which the most competent by far is clearly Putin - so much so he may have helped in or managed Trump!  Another difference is Johnson and Trump have adopted (or cope with) chaos around them while Putin prefers chaos elsewhere.

Lying or "inexactitude with the truth" is nothing new - nor are any of the following individually.  These seem to occur in a complex though: saying the complete opposite of what is happening (estate agent method) and when challenged "doubling down" and never acknowledging previous lies / mistakes when exposed, putting out multiple conflicting narratives, a focus on emotional narrative over facts, poisoning the wells.  Also behaving like a hypersensitive bully - as mentioned in another thread - is common.  So a lack of loyalty - even to those who helped you get power, accusing those less powerful (especially minorities / those with different voices) of somehow oppressing the majority and attacking them etc.

Political "maskirovka" though no doubt a new word is out there somewhere!

Avatar
eburtthebike | 1 year ago
8 likes

People need to remember that this is Boris the Liar, and anything he says one day has no bearing whatsoever on what he says at any future time.  Nothing he says is to be taken as fact, and he'd probably be insulted if anyone did that.  Tomorrow he will be extolling the success of low emission zones that he condemned today, and claiming the credit.

Tories; raising hypocrisy to a new level every day.

Avatar
GMBasix | 1 year ago
2 likes
Quote:

Yesterday at Prime Minister’s Questions, the Conservative councillor for Bury North, James Daly

Small detail, but Daly is, in fact, MP for Bury North, not councillor.

He was a councillor on Bury Council, for North Manor Ward, 2012-2021; he was elected to Parliament in 2019.

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AidanR replied to GMBasix | 1 year ago
0 likes
GMBasix wrote:

Small detail, but Daly is, in fact, MP for Bury North, not councillor.

He was a councillor on Bury Council, for North Manor Ward, 2012-2021; he was elected to Parliament in 2019.

I was wondering how a councillor would ask a question at PMQs!

Avatar
OnYerBike | 1 year ago
5 likes

I haven't been following this one so not aware of the full details, but a scheme which charges buses and coaches but not private cars would seem to be missing a trick.

Avatar
Chris | 1 year ago
8 likes

Remember when we hosted Cop(out) 26? That was money well spent, eh?

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to Chris | 1 year ago
8 likes
Chris wrote:

Remember when we hosted Cop(out) 26? That was money well spent, eh?

The same COP 26 that didn't mention cycling, walking or public transport on its Transport Day?  That one?

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