A Conservative MP criticised the Mayor of Greater Manchester for putting taxi drivers' jobs at risk.
During a recent debate on road user charging schemes at Westminster Hall, Conservative MP James Daly expressed his concerns over the policies implemented by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, stating that they could potentially harm taxi drivers and other hardworking individuals.
Daly, who has a background in the private sector, raised questions about the Greater Manchester clean air zone proposed by Burnham, describing it as astonishing in its scale. He pointed out that the size of the zone, covering 493 square miles, would make it the largest clean air zone in the world. However, he highlighted that no concrete reasons were ever given for its imposition, especially as there were no apparent health benefits associated with it.
The MP emphasised that such policies often lacked evidence of their effectiveness, and instead, penalised the very individuals who elected them. He expressed his worry about the impact on taxi drivers, along with other professions such as plumbers and electricians, who rely on their work in the community. Daly also criticised the high costs involved, citing the £50 million expenditure on a scheme that was originally intended to be introduced in May 2022 but was later halted due to public backlash ahead of Burnham's mayoral election.
Daly accused the Mayor of mixing political opportunism with ideology, urging fellow politicians to vigorously oppose such measures that could potentially jeopardise the livelihoods of taxi drivers and other hardworking constituents. He argued that instead of pushing policies that harm small businesses and individuals, there should be a focus on finding solutions that benefit both the environment and the economy.
The debate shed light on the concerns raised by MP James Daly, reflecting a larger conversation about the impact of road user charging schemes on taxi drivers and the need for evidence-based and balanced policies. As the discussions continue, the future of clean air zones and their consequences for various professions and communities remains a topic of interest and concern.
James Daly MP, said: “The situation is like many other things we see in politics—the generalisation and other people wanting my constituents to believe something without proving that any of it makes any difference. Every single person in this Chamber knows that we can look into the cameras, try to be liberal and nice, and say, “In these circumstances a clean air zone might work.” But the zones never work because they do not achieve anything and they penalise the people who elect us.
“How on earth can we come up with a policy that puts taxi drivers out of business? Andy Burnham spent £50 million on a scheme that he planned to introduce on 30 May 2022. Then, miraculously, with his mayoral election coming up, the scheme was stopped following a backlash against the scale of the proposals. It was political opportunism mixed with ideology, and we should fight it with every sinew of our bodies.”