Tory MPs react with fury at Mayor’s decision to extend ULEZ charge to Greater London

Hundreds of thousands more drivers face a daily fee of £12.50 for using London’s roads (PA Archive)
Hundreds of thousands more drivers face a daily fee of £12.50 for using London’s roads (PA Archive)

Tory MPs have condemned Mayor Sadiq Khan‘s decision to extend the ULEZ zone to outer London claiming motorists are being “punished” as they already face a cost of living crisis.

The MPs, who represent Greater London consituencies, said the extension of the £12.50-a-day charging zone to their areas in August 2023, would also hit businesses.

The mayor’s decision – which he described as one of the most difficult of his political career – means 15 per cent of vehicles registered in the new outer London zone, about 200,000 at present, will be liable for the levy.

But an estimated five million Londoners will breathe cleaner air, according to City Hall, due to the likely impact of a city-wide zone further accelerating the switch to cleaner vehicles in the suburbs.

Mr Khan said he had decided to expand the zone across all 33 boroughs – from August 29 next year as planned – to tackle the “triple challenges” of air pollution, climate change and congestion.

However, the decision has triggered a furious response from Conservative MPs representing constituencies in Greater London.

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers said: “I have long said the Mayor should tackle air quality problems by cleaning up the TfL bus fleet, and by focusing on individual pollution hotspots, rather than with a punitive charge on motorists and businesses who are already struggling.

“Time and again my constituents have contacted me, worried about ULEZ, especially the elderly, van drivers and young families who rely on their vehicles and do not know how they will pay this charge.

“It is very harsh of the Mayor to impose this new tax on the suburbs at a time when so many people are worried about inflation and rising household bills.”

“Small businesses reliant on van transport will be especially badly hit,” she explained. “For businesses transporting goods and equipment, public transport simply is not a viable option and buying a new vehicle could be very costly.

“This is the wrong scheme at the wrong time. It will disproportionately affect those who can ill afford to pay this sum. It will have a negative impact on economic activity and help drive up inflation.”

MP for Sutton and Cheam Paul Scully claimed Sadiq Khan had ignored the results of his own consultation.

He said: “The Mayor consulted saying if there was ‘overwhelming opposition’ he wouldn’t extend ULEZ. Well 70% of outer Londoners din’t want it; 80% of business owners in outer London don’t want it woth the same level of opposition among people working in outer London.”

Meanwhile Orpington MP Gareth Bacon said: “Sadiq Khan’s decsion to expand ULEZ across Greater London in august 2023 is appalling. TfL’s estimates say it will have little or no impact on air quality in outer London. But it will cost drivers who use their car every day up to £4,500 a year. Londoners can’t afford it.”

Elliot Colburn MP tweeted: “It is a disgrace that the Labour Mayor of London has today abbounced that the ULEZ will be expanded to the whole of London, including (my constituency) Carshalton and Wallington.”

Mr Khan admitted the consultation saw a backlash against the expansion. About 60 per cent of respondents are thought to have been opposed.

“More people were against the expansion than were for it,” he said. “But I have been quite clear: this was a consultation not a referendum.”

There will be greater mitigating elements than under the previous expansion – a £110m scrappage scheme, additional buses in the suburbs and a “grace period” until October 2.