Locals in south London have rescued a Christmas tradition after Sadiq Khan’s Ulez scheme threatened to scupper a Santa parade.
Each December, the Rotary Club of Carshalton Park tows a Santa’s house around more than 150 streets to the delight of cheering children.
But the club was forced to plead for help this year after discovering that three regular volunteers who towed the float had scrapped their diesel Range Rovers to claim the £2,000 scrappage payment from Transport for London (TfL).
A month before the parade was due to take place, the club wrote on social media: “Because of Ulez, three of our regular tow vehicles have been scrapped. We want to bring Santa to visit again this year… Can anyone help by towing Santa’s house?”
‘Response was overwhelming’
A Rotary Club spokesman said the parade, which raises around £10,000 for local charities, had been saved by volunteers stepping in to tow the Santa house.
“The response was overwhelming,” he said. “We are back on the road after people responded to our pleas. The Ulez scheme has also affected a number of charities, which have had to scrap vehicles and raise funds to replace them.”
Some of the social media posts had received responses featuring cartoon images of The Grinch, a possible comparison between Mr Khan, the London Mayor, and Dr Seuss’s fantasy character who “stole Christmas”. The club spokesman said he could not comment on any such comparison.
He stressed that the parade was fully compliant, with Father Christmas even wearing a seatbelt harness as it travels at about three miles an hour around the town.
A TfL spokesman said: “Over £121 million in funds has been committed to date to help London residents, small businesses and charities to transition to greener alternatives, including more than £49 million to scrap cars and motorcycles and more than £72 million to scrap vans and minibuses.
“Millions of pounds of support is still available through the scrappage scheme.”