Sadiq Khan could be forced to shrink Ulez expansion by Home Counties rebels
Sadiq Khan has been warned that Home Counties rebels could shrink the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (Ulez) expansion area by blocking signs alerting drivers that they are entering the zone.
Matthew Furniss, cabinet member for transport and infrastructure at Surrey County Council, said the authority would not install signs telling drivers that they are entering a Ulez area until the London Mayor accepts its demands to help Surrey residents.
Other councils bordering London have also raised concerns about the extension and are plotting action.
Surrey County Council is calling on the mayor to extend the scrappage scheme for polluting vehicles to Surrey residents. It also wants Ulez-free corridors to NHS facilities opened and for key workers to be exempt from any charge.
Mr Furniss suggested that refusing to erect signs at the London-Surrey border would require the mayor to create a buffer zone on the edge of the Ulez map, to ensure drivers get sufficient warning before entering the zone.
In a letter to Mr Khan and Transport for London (TfL), seen by The Telegraph, Mr Furniss accused the bodies of “completely disregarding” its neighbours and “pressing on without any dialogue”.
Mr Furniss told The Telegraph: “TfL could continue with Ulez without our signs, it just wouldn’t be able to go right up to our border.
“This would mean that it wouldn’t be able to put the cameras until further in, which would make a smaller zone.
“If they want to go to the further limit, they have to work with us.”
Surrey council has now instructed officials to halt any discussions with TfL over signage locations until “urgent mitigation is offered”.
The move by Surrey mirrors action taken by boroughs within outer London which have vowed to block the installation of cameras.
The Mayor and TfL can sidestep these objections by installing cameras on top of TfL-owned traffic lights, or by using “direct installation powers”.
However, these powers do not stretch to non-London boroughs, meaning the Mayor and TfL are reliant on Surrey signing the agreement.
“The ball is in their court, we’ve set out reasonable mitigation,” added Mr Furniss.
The move by Surrey is likely to cause another headache for the Mayor, who has faced fierce resistance to the expansion. Drivers will be charged £12.50 a day if their car does not meet emissions standards.
David Brazier, Kent County Council’s cabinet member for highways, told The Telegraph it is assessing several options, including blocking signage.
The council is considering whether no signage could protect those travelling into London from Kent from paying the charge, as having no warning could give them justifiable grounds to challenge charges.
He said: “We are looking at the law there, because it may be the case that in the absence of the warning signs, an infraction of the rules is not enforceable.”
According to Mr Brazier, the council is also looking at whether to support or join the joint legal challenge currently being prepared by the four outer London boroughs of Bromley, Bexley, Harrow and Hillingdon.
Mr Brazier said that the council had carried out research last year and found that about 50,000 vehicles entered London from Kent each day. This should mean that the Mayor’s outer London scrappage scheme should be opened to Kent residents, he believes.
A TfL spokesperson said: “The Mayor has been clear that with 4000 Londoners a year dying prematurely from toxic air, his decision to expand the ULEZ should be implemented without delay. In doing so we are working closely and collaboratively with the local authorities concerned to install the infrastructure needed.”