Ex-Mayor Livingstone

BBC falls for it

The Mayor has got his Teletubbies thing going on his website today and the BBC has fallen for his press release. It is a shame they can’t check the facts.

The Mayor puts this line in a nice prominent position in his press release:

Poor air quality worsens asthma and causes the premature death of an estimated 1,000 people each year in London.

The Mayor’s 265 PRs are not silly. They know that some dumb journalist is going to get the wrong end of the stick and write this is up as Mayor saves 1,000 a year. Sure enough the BBC oblige here in bold in the opening line of their piece this morning:

It is a measure aimed at saving up to 1,000 lives a year.

The Transport for London background documents tell a much more modest story. See Section 4.41, page 35 of this report:

The Defra methodology estimates that the proposed LEZ scheme would prevent between 5200 and 5500 years of lost life expectancy lost across London, that 86 hospital admissions would be avoided and roughly 40 deaths brought forward would be avoided. The CAFE methodology predicts 65 hospital admissions be avoided. The CAFE methodology also expresses years of life lost in an alternative format, as premature deaths, and predicts that the LEZ will lead to 210 fewer premature deaths.

I guess the BBC is voting for Livingstone then.

3:00 pm Update: Their TV commentary here repeats the 1,000 number as if this has anything to do with the scheme.

2 replies on “BBC falls for it”

This whole scheme is a cover for mass tolling of London’s A-roads. The power to do this was granted in the Supplemental Tolls Bill last year. I have a letter from the London Assoc of Councils which makes clear it expects the tolling of ‘GLA roads’ as it calls them.

The LEZ cameras can/will be converted to ‘Tag and beacon’ pre-pay technology and then cars can be charged in and out of London. Interestingly, the planned pan-European lorry charging technology is also ‘Tag and beacon’ so I expect this system will be part of the European Lorry Charging scheme eventually as well.

When I called the TFL press office and asked them to ‘catagorically rule out the use of the LEZ cameras for tolling cars’ they would only say ‘they had no plans’. Which means ‘yes’.

Incidentally, the UK car makers have regular meetings with TFL and I hear from one atendee that the C-Charge will switch to Tag and beacon under the new IBM contract in November 2009. This should mean fines could be a thing of the past. Trouble is, Lenin relies on fine income to keep the C-Charge afloat. What will happen to protect income? Another price hike?

Don’t expect to be told about either of these plans ahead the election, though.

I am afraid to say that the BBC is not up to much these days. The quality of the journalism is pretty awful; we should be glad that the staff can read, let alone “check facts”!

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