Peter Gammons, the UKIP candidate in next month’s London mayoral election, has been roasted on Twitter after posting a video promising to rip out low traffic neighbourhoods if elected – with a number of users of the social network pointing out that the Mayor of London has no such powers.
Dr Gammons – he has a PhD from Canon University, Florida, and on his personal website describes himself as one of the world’s “most famous and in-demand inspirational and motivational speakers” – said last November when he was selected as UKIP’s candidate that if elected, he would “put a stop to [Sadiq] Khan’s war on motorists.
“I am passionate about supporting London’s taxi drivers and will launch a full review into reopening roads which Khan has closed,” he added.
Yesterday, he posted a video to Twitter filmed at one of the entrances to the Northfield LTN in the London Borough of Ealing, pledging to scrap such schemes if he were elected mayor – but as a number of Twitter users pointed out, ignoring the fact that Gammons lies a very distant fifth place in the polls, there are a couple of flaws in that pledge.
First and foremost – and a pretty much insurmountable hurdle, one might think – is that the Mayor of London has no such power, with the installation or removal of LTNs a matter wholly within the remit of the borough in question.
Could someone please tell Peter for me that on the very slim chance he becomes Mayor he still has no powers to suspend LTN’s. It’s up to the local council
— Bob From Accounts (@BobFromAccounts) April 15, 2021
(Curiously, in the case of Ealing, opposition to LTNs now unites a UKIP mayoral candidate with the local Labour MP, who has consistently criticised the council, controlled by her own party, for such interventions).
Gammons insisted that his motivation for posting the video was to support people who lived in LTNs.
I came to support protests from local https://t.co/aSCP56K5Go council should be able to impose things on communities without consultation.Those I spoke to appreciated my supporting them.Not everyone will agree. If you disagree, that’s fine, if your pleasant. If not your blocked.
— Peter Gammons (@Gammons4London) April 15, 2021
Yet when Felix Lowe – whom you may know from his Blazin’ Saddles blog on Eurosport and book Climbs and Punishment, and who lives in the very LTN where Gammons’ video was shot – replied outlining the benefits of the scheme to locals, he was blocked, as were others expressing support for the measures.
It’s crazy: I was blocked by @Gammons4London for the above tweet - a measured response from someone who lives quite literally a stone’s throw away from where he made the video. Why is he scared to debate with the electorate?? He’s not even a local resident!
— Felix Lowe (@saddleblaze) April 15, 2021
Another Twitter user, with tongue firmly in cheek, provided examples of long-standing LTNs in West London which would no doubt have to go too, should Gammons become mayor.
This one in Ealing has to go, too. Cuts out an otherwise really handy route from the Westway to the A4. Can't wait for you to remove these, it'll make life so much better when the North Circular is congested. pic.twitter.com/jfdxo8isHi
— Jon (@ormondroyd) April 15, 2021
And this post in response to Gammons’ video highlights one of the reasons why now more than ever before LTNs are needed, with modern technology directing motorists away from main roads and through what had often been quiet residential streets to avoid congestion.
My grandmother lived on Leighton Road not far from the pub behind you. Can you restore the street to the time she was there, before satnavs sent all the traffic through? It was nice and quiet then and she was able to walk to the shops quite easily. Just like it is now in fact. 🤷♂
— Dominik Klimowski (@Klimowski) April 15, 2021
While Gammons is firmly opposed to LTNs and the emergency cycleways that have appeared in London over the past year or so, he does have his own rather singular views on the type of infrastructure that best suits people who choose to get around the capital by bike.
“I want to get London moving again,” he said when his candidacy was announced. “There are over 2 million miles of unused tunnels, streets, and chambers beneath London. This abandoned network was secretly built by the Ministry of Defence, Post Office, and BT.
“I want to convert these disused spaces into walkways, safe cycle lanes, and create the world’s first underground ‘Pod’ transport system. This ambitious project will speed up the city and clear up London’s congestion – an issue that consecutive Conservative and Labour administrations have failed to solve,” he added.
This week, an opinion poll put Khan on course to receive 51 per cent of first choice votes, with Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey a distant second on 29 per cent.
Green candidate Sian Berry and Lib Dem Luisa Porritt are joint third with 8 per cent, with Gammons lagging well behind in fifth place with just 1 per cent of respondents saying he would get their first choice vote.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.