300 new Ulez cameras rolled out — but none in rebel boroughs

TFL is pressing ahead with installing numberplate-reading technology  (PA Wire)
TFL is pressing ahead with installing numberplate-reading technology (PA Wire)

More than 300 cameras that will enforce the ultra-low emission zone in outer London have already been installed — but none in the Tory boroughs fighting the Mayor’s plans.

Transport for London has confirmed it is pressing ahead with installing numberplate-reading technology ahead of the expected launch of the Londonwide Ulez on August 29, despite the scheme facing a potential judicial review.

By the end of January, 312 of the 2,750 cameras were in place across 17 boroughs, including 41 in Barnet, 37 each in Enfield and Hounslow, 31 in Redbridge, 21 in Richmond and 20 in Barking and Dagenham.

But none have been erected in the four Tory boroughs — Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon — that, along with Surrey county council, have asked the High Court to block Sadiq Khan’s extension to the Greater London boundary.

The camera figures, which were obtained by the City Hall Conservatives, came as Bromley council set aside £140,000 of taxpayers’ cash in case of defeat at the High Court.

Harrow has already allocated up to £400,000, though this was at a time when it was unclear whether it would have to challenge the Ulez expansion without the support of other boroughs.

Bromley’s Tory leader Colin Smith said opposing the Ulez expansion was a “fight worth fighting” and a “just cause” -  and said the cost of defeat would amount to just £1 per household.

TfL said preparations for the expansion, which will result in about 200,000 more drivers a day having to pay the £12.50 emissions levy, “remained on schedule”.

The cameras have been erected on TfL roads, mostly on top of its traffic lights. None have been switched on.

TfL began placing orders for the cameras last April, more than six months before Mr Khan formally confirmed the expansion despite 59 per cent of respondents to TfL’s consultation opposing the move.

TfL expects to spend £60 million to £75 million on cameras and road signs, and for the total cost of the expansion to be between £130 million and £140 million - down from the previous estimate of £159.5m.

Nick Rogers, City Hall Tory transport spokesman, said: “Sadiq Khan should be helping Londoners with the cost of living, not spending millions on a camera network before his sham consultation had even started.”

It came as a Tory councillor in Bromley sparked anger by describing the Ulez as a “new Berlin wall” that would separate London and Kent and result in the “Stasi-fication of the outer regions”.

Cllr Will Rowlands told a council meeting that the use of cameras – to detect which motorists fail to pay the charge – was akin to the surveillance of the East German population by the Stasi secret police during the Cold War.

Defending his remarks, he told the Standard: “Ulez is an invisible wall which will keep residents of Kent and the Home Counties out of Greater London.”

But a source close to Mr Khan said: “This is outrageous. In opposing our clean air policies, the Tories have gone from science denial to ridiculous and offensive Cold War comparisons.

“The Tories need to stop stoking fear and spreading misinformation, and get behind our policies to clean up London’s air.”

At People’s Question Time in Ealing on Thursday night, Mr Khan said people opposing the Ulez expansion included “far-Right” activists.

A TfL spokesperson said: “The Mayor has been clear that with 4,000 Londoners a year dying from toxic air, his decision to expand the Ulez should be implemented without delay.

“In doing so we are working closely and collaboratively with all boroughs concerned to install the infrastructure needed.”