Sadiq Khan threatens eight rebel councils with forced Ulez cameras
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has threatened to install cameras across eight rebel councils as early as this month after they missed a deadline to agree to the expansion of Ulez.
In a letter to councils who have voiced their objections to the expansion, Transport for London (TfL) said it was now looking at powers to override plans to block the installation of cameras, and work to put them in place could start in the coming weeks.
It comes as TfL revealed that 16 of the 24 London boroughs that would come under the expansion had signed key “Section 8” agreements giving permission for new cameras to go up.
The eight remaining councils were given until the end of Thursday to sign the agreement, the second deadline after initially being told to sign by 23 December.
The rebel boroughs include Bromley, Bexley, Harrow and Hillingdon. The four councils have currently teamed up to explore taking legal action against the Mayor of London in an attempt to block the expansion.
The Evening Standard reported that Harrow Council had set aside £400,000 to push forward with a High Court battle, and has said that it will fight on its own if needed.
In the letter sent to these councils, and seen by The Telegraph, TfL said that signing the Section 8 agreement would not prejudice any legal action they pursued. It also committed paying for the removal of any cameras if the legal challenges proved successful.
Other boroughs understood to be refusing to sign the Section 8 agreement are Conservative-led Croydon and Liberal Democrat-led Sutton.
The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, which had previously raised concerns about Sadiq Khan’s plans, confirmed to The Telegraph that it had signed the Section 8 agreement.
Cameras and daily charges
Under the Mayor’s plans, from August all drivers in London will be forced to pay a daily £12.50 charge if their vehicles do not pass minimum emission standards.
According to TfL, there are around 2,750 cameras that need to be installed across outer London boroughs to police the new charge.
Approximately two thirds of these cameras will not need Section 8 agreements because they will be installed on top of existing traffic lights which already belong to TfL. For new camera infrastructure to be installed, a Section 8 agreement is required.
However, in its letter to the rebel councils, TfL says that it is able to side-step any councils that do not sign the Section 8 agreement by using “direct installation powers”.
These statutory powers are given to TfL as the charging authority for the Ulez zone and override Section 8 agreements.
The letter said: “The Mayor and TfL consider them to be reserve powers to be used only after attempts to resolve matters have proved unsuccessful.
“However, the guidance is explicit that TfL may appropriately use them to ensure that the Works (or enough of them) are completed sufficiently in advance of the 29 August 2023 scheme commencement date.”
In a joint statement responding to the letter, Hillingdon, Harrow, Bexley and Bromley said they will not sign the Section 8 agreement with TfL while legal advice is being taken.