RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Who needs Extinction Rebellion?

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Who needs Extinction Rebellion when we’ve got Grant Shapps?

Motorists who park on pavements are to be hit with a £70 fine under new rules published by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The fixed penalty is designed to stop cars and vans blocking the free movement of wheelchairs, parents pushing buggies and morbidly obese people on mobility scooters making their way back from the chip shop. 

It’s all part of the Government’s push to encourage more cycling and walking. And there’s no denying that parking on pavements is anti-social.

Some drivers are bound to be concerned about getting punished because they’ve parked accidentally with one wheel nudging the kerb. It happens, especially in bays designed deliberately for vehicles no wider than a Dinky Toy.

But they shouldn’t worry. The way things are going, motorists won’t be able to get within ten yards of the pavement, thanks to the proliferation of dedicated bus and cycle lanes.

Motorists who park on pavements are to be hit with a £70 fine under new rules published by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

Just as I warned you back at the beginning of May, the anti-car fanatics who clutter up the Department of Transport and our Town Halls have seized the opportunity provided by Covid to close roads and build thousands more bike lanes.

They’ve been at it for years, but were given fresh impetus by Shapps’s imbecilic decision to shower them with £225 million to create ‘people-friendly’ streets.

All they’ve done is squeeze road space and manufacture horrendous, interminable traffic jams, sending pollution from exhaust fumes soaring. 

They’ve also succeeded in hampering the emergency services and consigning local residents to long, unnecessary detours. Meanwhile, the cycle lanes are virtually empty.

I’ve heard from readers all over Britain, from Kingston upon Thames to Kingston upon Hull, being driven to distraction by the authorities’ determination to build a land fit for Lycra louts on mountain bikes. A new cycle superhighway on the busy A63 in Yorkshire has caused chaos.

This ain’t no technological breakdown, it’s the Road to Hull. Everywhere there’s gridlock. And that was before the school run was due to begin again in earnest today. 

All this at a time when we are constantly being warned it’s still not safe to use public transport, the cab trade is on its knees and millions are reliant on home shopping deliveries.

I can’t speak for the rest of Britain, but trying to get around London by car is a nightmare. 

Pictured: Extinction Rebellion activists walk through Westfield to the Transport for London offices in Stratford

Again in May, I wrote about the way in which the city’s two-bob chancer of a mayor Genghis Khan’s anti-car agenda had turned the centre of London into a ghost town by extending the already extortionate congestion charge, closing roads and widening pavements for non-existent shoppers.

This vindictive, politically motivated lunacy has only exacerbated the economic meltdown caused by the refusal of civil servants and white-collar workers to return to their offices. 

Outside the central area, much of suburban London resembles a giant car park, as vehicles cram into drastically reduced road space, alongside practically deserted bike and bus lanes.

The People’s Republic of Islington, spiritual home of New Labour, has gone berserk. The streets look like a crazy-golf course, littered with chicanes, bollards, planters, humps, cameras, metal barriers, you name it: anything to harass motorists. 

Once-free-flowing roundabouts have been shut permanently and pedestrianised, and traffic lights have been reprogrammed to favour cycles and largely empty buses.

Some stretches of the Great North Road now have just a single lane for cars in each direction. Travelling as little as one mile can take anything up to an hour.

I can’t speak for the rest of Britain, but trying to get around London by car is a nightmare, writes Richard Littlejohn

Residents are mounting noisy protests about their streets being cut off and the increasingly ridiculous length of time it takes to get to work or visit elderly relatives. The Fire Brigade says lives are being put at risk.

Islington Council couldn’t care less, boasting absurdly that it is stopping wealthy motorists from polluting working-class areas. But it’s the same story across much of Britain. I hadn’t realised until the weekend that there is method in all this madness.

Then I read a piece in the Sunday Telegraph by author Rob Lyons, explaining that the anti-car agenda is based on something called the ’15-minute city’, drawn up by Professor Carlos Moreno, who is described as ‘a Franco-Colombian urbanist at the Sorbonne’.

The idea is no one should travel more than a quarter of an hour by foot or bike to work, shop, attend school or access health care. It’s a regressive, anti-libertarian, medieval vision of a future in which we’re all confined to small, tightly defined areas.

But it’s being embraced enthusiastically by our civic planners. If they’re successful, it will mean an end to individual mobility and deliver the coup de grace for our already crippled city centres.

This has all been done without any public consultation, using emergency powers granted because of Covid. Outrageously, it is being enabled and funded by a Conservative government and a headline-hungry Transport Secretary in thrall to the eco-mentalists.

How long before Shapps turns up at the Department for Transport in a pink yacht and glues himself to the pavement?

As if to make things ten times worse, just as the schools are reopening and staff are being urged to get back to their desks, the Extinction Rebellion headbangers are planning another round of demonstrations and blockades from today — outside Parliament, the Bank of England and elsewhere, aimed at bringing traffic to a complete halt.

You wonder why XR are bothering. Thanks to the virus, they’ve won. Central London is deserted, and half the roads in the country are at a standstill already.

Who needs Extinction Rebellion when we’ve got Grant Shapps?

Boris has tried and failed to hire BBC autocutie Riz Lateef to present his daily No 10 news conferences. 

The job is now expected to go to former ITV hack Allegra Stratton. I suppose Emily Maitlis is out of the question. 

However, the BBC and Sky have already said they will not automatically broadcast the briefings. 

Each will be judged ‘on merit’. Fair enough. In which case, both channels might like to explain why for the past six months they have given blanket coverage to Wee Burney’s daily propaganda fest.

Boris Johnson (pictured) has tried and failed to hire BBC autocutie Riz Lateef to present his daily No 10 news conferences

Mind you, given that the Government in London seems slavishly to follow whatever Sturgeon comes out with, maybe they’ve decided she’s the real PM not simply leader of a Toytown administration responsible for just 8.25 per cent of the UK population.

Wee Burney is banking on making sure the rest of us are sick of the sight and sound of her to help Scotland achieve independence.

The BBC and Sky seem to be happy to oblige.

A new, right-of-centre news channel is rumoured to be coming to British TV.

Not a moment too soon, either. Bring it on.

Nosebags for life

Some people queued for up to three hours yesterday to take advantage of the last knockings of Dishi Rishi’s Pig Out To Help Out deal.

Restaurants, pubs and cafes were besieged by punters determined to save a tenner while stocks lasted.

There’s no doubt the scheme has been successful in kick-starting the hospitality sector, which suffered badly during lockdown. It’s great news that cut-price meals will continue thanks to the Mail’s 2-for-1 offer and similar deals subsidised by restaurant chains themselves.

Some people queued for up to three hours yesterday to take advantage of the last knockings of Dishi Rishi’s Pig Out To Help Out deal 

In the scheme of things, the £500 million it cost taxpayers turned out to be money well spent. But faced with a £2 trillion deficit, and counting, Sunak can’t afford to keep picking up the bill any longer. 

And let’s hope most of those who’ve taken full advantage of the deal every day will continue to patronise those eateries when prices go back to normal. Don’t bet on it.

I can’t help wondering, too, how many of those millions queuing to get into restaurants yesterday will be back at work today. Or will they still pretend to be too frightened to return to their offices?

 Restaurants, pubs and cafes were besieged by punters determined to save a tenner while stocks lasted

Here’s a plan. Maybe someone should design a new-style face mask, modelled on those nosebags used to feed horses. Then bargain-hunting burger enthusiasts could fill ’em up with fast food and chomp away merrily while strictly observing Covid safety protocols.

Chips could be shovelled directly into the masks, saving on litter.

And if Dishi wants to recoup that £500 million he could introduce a £10 levy and issue diners with a Nosebag For Life.

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