The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launched a major consultation earlier this month to get the opinions of Londoners on whether the Ultra Low Emission Zone should be extended to encompass almost all of Greater London. The expansion of the ULEZ would be introduced on August 29, 2023, and would see an estimated 135,000 vehicles at risk of being charged at least £12.50 on a daily basis.
Councillor Teresa O’Neill, Leader of Bexley Council, called on Sadiq Khan to reconsider his ULEZ expansion plans for the sake of drivers.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, she said: “With household bills rising, many people can’t afford to pay £12.50 a day to drive or buy a new vehicle.
“Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion plan would be disastrous for many families and businesses across Bexley.
“We need sensible policies to tackle air pollution which don’t tax the poorest.
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“Instead of punitive road charges, the Mayor should reopen Transport for London’s scrappage schemes to help low-income and disabled Londoners, small businesses and charities ditch their older, polluting vehicles.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told Express.co.uk that Transport for London will be launching a “major consultation” on a new scrappage scheme later this year.
Boris Johnson recently criticised the plans, calling the plans “burdensome”, recalling that when he was Mayor of London, he delayed any introduction of additional charges to drivers.
The Prime Minister also positioned himself alongside the Bexley Conservatives, who wrote an open letter to Sadiq Khan calling for the plans to be scrapped.
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It is feared that the majority of those priced off the road would be from lower income backgrounds who may not be able to afford to buy a new, ULEZ-compliant car.
The AA proposed that other schemes could be introduced to address the emissions issues, including expanding the Park and Ride services as well as Park and Cycle schemes.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told Express.co.uk: “Toxic air is a social justice issue, as it’s the poorest and most vulnerable people who suffer the worst effects of pollution. 4,000 Londoners die early each year because of it with the majority in outer London.
“By expanding the ULEZ the Mayor is taking bold action to tackle dangerous toxic air. Only people driving the most polluting vehicles have to pay for the ULEZ.
“Over 80 percent of drivers in outer London already have cars that are ULEZ compliant, and therefore won’t have to pay if the ULEZ expansion is confirmed following public consultation.
“When weighing up the different options, the rising cost of living was a key consideration. With Londoners’ budgets under pressure, the Mayor would not ask Londoners to pay more unless he was convinced it is justified to reduce pollution, save lives and protect health.
“The Mayor is committed to delivering the biggest scrappage scheme feasible to help Londoners most in need of support to move to ULEZ compliant vehicles.
“He is also demanding the Government provide funding for a scrappage scheme in London, like it’s doing for many other cities around the country.
“TfL will carry out a major consultation to develop the proposals in the coming months.”