By: Elliot Keck, investigations campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance
We promised a bombshell in the March edition of this blog. Well here it is. Our investigation, which splashed the Mail+ (the online late edition of the Daily Mail), found that 240 ambulances were delayed by low-traffic neighbourhood schemes in London, the hugely controversial projects which have been the bane of motorists across the capital and elsewhere.
We’ve been at the forefront of calls for local government to apply the brakes to these schemes. While there is clearly a place for traffic calming measures, the way that low-traffic neighbourhoods have been implemented has been a disaster. They look like cash cows, not genuine attempts to improve the lives of pedestrians. And with the revelations that they are causing problems for emergency services, the need to reconsider only grows.
April was a moment of dramatic political change in Scotland. Humza Yousaf took office as the First Minister of Scotland on 29th March, replacing Nicola Sturgeon, who had been in office for almost 9 years. He quickly indicated his interest in proceeding with the controversial Gender Recognition Reform Bill, despite public opposition. Not to be dissuaded, it turned out that the Scottish Government was funding groups lobbying in favour of the Bill, and lobbying against the UK government’s decision to block it, to the tune of £6.4 million. Our research was published in The Times.
Taxpayers are sick of seeing their cash redirected to lobby the government. It distorts the decision making process. Case in point is our research revealed in April that more than £3 million was handed out to organisations campaigning against the Rwanda plan. This is despite Rishi Sunak making stopping the small boats one of his five governing priorities, with the Rwanda plan at least supposedly a key part of this.
This is all cash that could be used for other priorities, something the police should take particular note of. In April we revealed in the Daily Mail that the police spent £34 million in just one year on spin doctors, an increase on the previous year. Job titles among these roles include ‘graphic designer’ and ‘TV and events assistant’. The police have a lot of scandals for spin doctors to combat at the moment. Ironically, this is now one of them.
Finally, if there is one thing the government surely isn’t wasting money on anymore, it would be PPE, right? Wrong. Our investigation, published by Sky News, revealed that taxpayers are still paying £580,000 per day to store the stuff as of January 2023. A total of £312 million between January 2022 and 2023. When will the government get a grip?
Stay tuned for May, when we will be revealing the madness that is taking place in South Cambridgeshire.
If you suspect public bodies of wasting money and want us to investigate, let me know at [email protected]