Row over ‘fake news’ after Susan Hall posts pay-per-mile image on social media

Labour campaign says image is “photoshopped” and “is a lie” but Conservative camp claims Sadiq Khan’s promises are “worthless”, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

The 'pay per mile' image posted by Susan Hall's campaign
The ‘pay per mile’ image posted by Susan Hall’s campaign

A social media post from Tory London mayoral candidate Susan Hall, claiming that Sadiq Khan will charge motorists for every mile they drive, has been attacked by critics as “fake news”.

Hall on Friday (5th) posted an image on her social media channels depicting a Ulez roadside sign alongside an apparently photoshopped sign warning of a supposed ‘pay-per-mile’ zone.

She captioned it: “Don’t want to see this on every street corner? Stop Sadiq Khan’s pay-per-mile plans. Vote for change.”

It comes after the Conservatives claimed in a recent party political broadcast that the Labour mayor has “secret plans to impose new charges for every single mile you drive – a pay-per-mile London”.

Responding to Hall’s post, London Labour said: “This sign does not and will never exist.

“Sadiq has been clear — ruling out pay-per-mile categorically while he is mayor. This is a photoshopped image and is a lie.”

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West said the Tories “need to drop their fake news tactics”.

Approached for comment, a source close to Hall said: “Sadiq promised not to bring in the Ulez expansion, and then he did it anyway.

“His promises now are worthless from a man with a track record of dishonesty.

“Sadiq has spent £150 million on the technology for pay-per-mile, and he expects Londoners to believe he won’t use that technology? Mad.”

The mayor said in answer to a written question in July 2021 that he had “no plans to extend the Ulez to outer London”, before announcing such plans eight months later, in March 2022.

The reference to £150m being spent on the “technology for pay-per-mile” is in relation to a Transport for London (TfL) scheme called Project Detroit.

The project aims to build “a new core technology platform for road user charging” which would “replicate the capability” of existing road charges like the Ulez, congestion charge, Low Emission Zone (Lez), and tolls at the Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnels – by rolling them into a single system.

A December 2022 Freedom of Information (FoI) response from TfL stated however: “The Detroit platform has the capability to be extended and we will be looking to build the system flexibly so that other forms of charging based on distance, vehicle type, etc, could be catered for if a decision was made in future to do so.”

According to separate FOI requests reported by The Daily Telegraph, a total of £21m has already been spent on the project, which started in 2021, but the “platform has an estimated final cost of between £130m to £150m”.

Khan told the London Assembly in September 2023: “As long as I am mayor, we’re not going to have pay-per-mile”.

The denial was made after Conservative assembly member Emma Best asked him about TfL board papers from March 2022, which stated: “The mayor has asked TfL to develop proposals for consolidating existing road user charging schemes into one simple and fair pay-per-mile scheme, for introduction by the end of the decade.”

The mayor insisted that despite having asked TfL to investigate the concept, it was not something he intended to pursue. “TfL advise, I decide,” he said.

The London mayoral election will take place on 2nd May, along with elections to the London Assembly.

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