Delivering for a Megacity – Why we need a Freight Commissioner for London

Today, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) called on City Hall to appoint a Freight Commissioner to lead on freight and logistics in London, as the Mayor consults on a new Transport Strategy for the capital

Why is this important? Freight plays a vital, if not always appreciated, role in our everyday lives. From stocking our high streets shelves to supplying the raw materials for the fifty thousand new homes needed in London each year to sustain our growing population, freight supports our way of living and the quality of life we all enjoy.

As London heads towards ‘megacity’ status with 10 million residents by 2030, the demands on the capital’s transport network, and of its residents and businesses for services and supplies, will never have been higher.

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Yet, despite its vital importance, freight is rarely at the top of the political agenda. As we carry out our busy lives, we seldom stop to think about how something gets from A to B in a 24/7 city. Instead, issues such as congestion, pollution and road safety understandably remain in the spotlight and at the forefront of our minds.

LCCI believes that a new Freight Commissioner would help deliver a long-term plan that balances the essential role that freight plays in meeting the growing demands of businesses and residents whilst simultaneously addressing fundamental quality of life challenges, including addressing pollution and reducing congestion.

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Last year, LCCI campaigned against early proposals for a morning lorry ban in the capital that didn’t include a back-up plan for how London would meet its freight and logistics needs. Blanket bans – or similar interventions – can risk unintended consequences.   Above we highlighted how it takes 34 freight vehicle movements to build an average three bedroom house.  If you tried to deliver these materials exclusively by van, it would take 270 trips.

As an alternative, LCCI supports practical steps including:

  • A radical overhaul of the London Lorry Control Scheme which restricts HGV night-time and weekend deliveries, given changes in vehicle technology and the needs of a 24/7 economy. Business should be helped to shift deliveries from the morning peak where it makes business sense to do so.
  • A River Freight Commission to report back on how to deliver greater freight movements on the River Thames, helping ease pressure on the city’s roads.
  • New road crossings in East London. In 2016, and in support of new road crossings at Gallions Reach and Belvedere, TfL highlighted how unlike car drivers freight cannot simply switch to public transport. However, these new road crossings to not feature in current Transport Strategy plans. New road crossings at Gallions Reach and Belvedere would transform cross-river connectivity, making it easier for people and goods to cross the river supporting economic growth in East London.
  • A freight journey is never made unnecessarily, but is rather driven by the demands of residents and businesses. Policy makers need to work to better understand how this behaviour can be changed and support business to reduce their ‘freight footprint’.

We believe that a new Freight Commissioner, as part of the Mayor’s new Transport Strategy, would help deliver proposals like ours above to meet the needs of our 24/7 city – for residents and businesses alike.

 Tom Evans

Policy Manager, LCCI

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