‘Think again!’ Council petition begs Sadiq Khan to delay Ulez expansion

 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

A Lib-Dem borough is urging Sadiq Khan to delay the expansion of the Ulez across Greater London.

Sutton Council is urging its residents to sign a petition calling on the mayor to “think again” about widening the ultra-low emission zone on August 29.

Dozens of anti-Ulez protesters attended a council meeting called to discuss the Ulez on Monday night. There were rowdy scenes as some Ulez supporters were shouted down.

It came as the borough’s two Tory MPs, Minister for London Paul Scully and Elliot Colburn, revealed they were “exploring” whether the Government had the power to block the mayor’s plans.

This is despite Transport Secretary Mark Harper telling Parliament last week that Mr Khan was legally entitled to install Ulez enforcement cameras and warning signs in the outer boroughs, regardless of local opposition.

In a joint letter, Mr Scully, who is considering a bid to become the Tory mayoral candidate, and Mr Colburn said the £12.50-a-day levy could be “fatal” for some businesses.

They also raised concerns about access to the Royal Marsden cancer hospital in Sutton for drivers of older vehicles that do not meet the Ulez exhaust emission rules, meaning they would have to pay the charge.

They said Sutton, which does not have a Tube station, had the fourth-highest number of people who drove to work.

About 28,000 non-compliant vehicles are registered in Sutton, and they said it was “regrettable” the council had not joined five Tory councils in challenging the Ulez at the High Court.

The MPs wrote: “We have been asked by many constituents as to whether the Government can somehow override or overrule the Mayor of London.

“The position is that the section in the Greater London Authority Act relating to the Secretary of State’s powers does not give them a veto-type power over an individual policy being pursued by the mayor.

“However, we do not believe this is clear cut and, alongside the legal action being taken, this question is something we are exploring.”

Sutton wants the expansion to be paused until public transport alternatives to car travel have been “improved significantly” and Transport for London’s £110m scrappage scheme, which helps low-income Londoners and small businesses to switch to Ulez-compliant vehicles, has been made more generous.

We have been asked by many constituents as to whether the Government can somehow override or overrule the Mayor of London

Tory MPs Paul Scully and Elliot Colburn

About £18m in funds have been allocated to date, helping 5,000 applicants. This suggests that about 30,000 Londoners will receive scrappage funds – about five per cent of those thought to have non-compliant vehicles.

Several dozen people asked to speak at the meeting. Protesters included Piers Corbyn.

Sutton council leader Ruth Dombey said: “I urge everyone impacted by the Ulez scheme, whether residents, businesses, students, visitors and suppliers to sign our new petition for the Mayor of London to rethink his Ulez expansion.

“The council agreed in July 2022 to ask the Mayor to put his scheme on hold until public transport in the borough is improved significantly; the vehicle scrappage scheme for drivers to convert their cars to Ulez requirements is expanded; and the cost of living crisis is over.

“Sadly, our calls have fallen on deaf ears and our residents, businesses and visitors have been ignored.

“Now we have just a few months left to show the Mayor the strength of feeling in Sutton before the Ulez is imposed on our borough against our wishes.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor said: “The decision to expand the Ulez was not an easy one, but around 4,000 Londoners die every year as a result of poor quality air, and it contributes to a range of health conditions from asthma, to cancer, to dementia.

“The Ulez has had a transformational impact cleaning up the air in inner and central London, and people in Sutton deserve to breathe cleaner air too.

“Nine out of 10 cars in outer London are already Ulez compliant. For vehicles that aren’t the Mayor has introduced the biggest vehicle scrappage scheme of any city in the UK.”