Congestion charging has been attacked as an ‘utterly inadequate’ tool for dealing with city traffic levels which punishes only poorer motorists.

Brian Rose, one of the frontrunners in the race to be London Mayor, said a revolution in the funding of public transport was necessary if cities were to deal with traffic pollution.

Rose was speaking after an inquest found air pollution made a ‘material contribution’ to the death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who lived by London’s South Circular road in Lewisham.

Rose said: ‘London is not doing enough to tackle air pollution. Attempts to price motorists off the roads via congestion charges have patently failed – and that’s because these charges are primarily revenue raisers, necessary because the funding of our capital’s transport system is utterly broken.

‘If the city is serious about making its air fit to breathe, it’s not enough to come up with empty pledges. Unless a better way of funding our public transport is identified, London will be stuck with an out-of-date, dirty network which can barely afford to maintain itself, far less invest in clean new transport.

‘The desperately sad story of young Ella is such a tragic reminder that cleaning up our cities is not just a matter of policy debate – it’s a matter of life and death.’

Rose’s election manifesto includes plans for freeing up Transport for London land on which to build 100,000 affordable homes a year.

Sites within half a mile of transport hubs will be used, to minimise the need for homeowners to use cars and, crucially, a community infrastructure levy will be applied so that those who benefit financially from new transport developments pay back into the system.

Rose said: ‘We must find ways of funding a greener transport infrastructure – cleaner buses, more electric cabs, a network that people can rely on and feel safe using.

‘As things stand, Sadiq Khan’s transport policy amounts to punishing the poorest motorists with regressive and utterly inadequate congestion charges, punishing commuters with the most expensive public transport system of any major city on the entire planet, and running TfL into the ground by starving it of funds without identifying alternative funding solutions.’

Khan has also been attacked over his £2.2billion Silvertown Tunnel, being built in East London.

The tunnel is supposed to reduce pressure on the nearby Blackwall Tunnel but campaigners say it will simply encourage more people to drive.

Rose added: ‘Not only will the Silvertown Tunnel draw more drivers on to London’s roads, it will be a toll tunnel. Just as with the congestion charge, poorer motorists will be hit far harder.

‘Khan is a regressive Mayor, cursing London with 20th-century transport solutions rather than building a 21st-century network. He really is yesterday’s man, punting yesterday’s filthy policies.’

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