Ulez expansion: Sadiq Khan has power to install CCTV cameras despite council objections

Ulez expansion: Sadiq Khan has power to install CCTV cameras despite council objections

A new twist in the row over the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone across Greater London emerged on Monday.

Transport for London said it had the power to install the majority of the 2,750 CCTV enforcement cameras without needing the approval of borough councils.

Eight boroughs – including five Tory and two Lib-Dem councils – are preparing to challenge London mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand the Ulez on August 29.

Some have refused to sign “Section 8” agreements enabling TfL to erect cameras and signs on borough roads.

But the Standard has learned that TfL plans to install about two-thirds of the automatic number-plate reading (ANPR) cameras – more than 1,800 cameras – on top of traffic lights, a move that does not need borough consent.

Documents authorising the Ulez expansion state: “The vast majority of new ANPR cameras installed on borough roads will be on existing or new TfL-operated traffic signals installations.

“Where this is the case a Section 8 agreement with the highway authority is not required as TfL is acting in its statutory capacity as traffic authority for the signals and road.

“In a small number of cases ANPR cameras may need to be installed on new (non-traffic signals) posts or other structures, where a Section 8 agreement would normally be sought where on a borough road.”

A TfL spokesman told the Standard: “Around two thirds of the cameras will go on existing traffic signals.”

TfL expects to spend £160m on new infrastructure – including thousands of road signs – and a public information campaign.

Camera locations are deliberately kept secret to minimise the risk of drivers seeking to evade the levy.

Drivers whose vehicles breach the exhaust emissions rules have to pay £12.50 a day – or face a £180 fine.

A £110m scrappage scheme, giving low-income Londoners, small businesses and charities grants of £2,000 to replace a non-compliant car or £5,000 for a non-compliant van, will open next Monday, January 30.

TfL had sought to get all affected boroughs to sign a Section 8 agreement by December 23, as part of a “consensual and co-operative” approach sought by the mayor. On Monday, it declined to reveal how many councils had agreed to permit the installation works.

Mr Khan told Mayor’s Question Time last Thursday that he was “confident” that the expansion would go live on August 29 as planned. He said TfL was making “good progress” in delivering the infrastructure.

He said expanding the Ulez was a “critical step” in tackling the “triple challenges” of air pollution, climate change and congestion.

But he sparked fury when he suggested that Tory assembly members who opposed the expansion “clearly do not care” about children developing stunted lungs or people dying prematurely as a result of toxic air.

The Tory boroughs of Bromley, Bexley, Harrow and Hillingdon are seeking to “examine the legal basis” of the Ulez expansion.

Croydon, which is led by a Tory mayor, and Havering, which is run by a residents-led coalition, plus Lib-Dem Sutton and Kingston have also expressed concerns.

Sutton and Harrow said they would refuse to sign the Section 8 agreements.

If boroughs refuse to comply, TfL can use “reserve powers” to install the cameras.

Sutton Lib-Dem councillor Bobby Dean, who is the party’s Parliamentary candidate for Carshalton and Wallington, said: “The Mayor may be determined to plough on without listening to Londoners but we are clear that it would be the wrong thing to do and unfair on Sutton residents.

“The opposition by many outer London boroughs is unprecedented and it is the Mayor’s duty to engage with us. Not to do so is democratically questionable.

“He needs to listen carefully to our concerns about the implementation of Ulez and not just dismiss our feedback as being against action on clean air. We will continue the fight to make Sutton residents heard and at City Hall and demand a delay with more funds to help people change their vehicles, as well as investment in public transport in our borough.”

Kingston leader Andreas Kirsch said he supported the principle of expanding the Ulez to tackle pollution but called for the launch to be delayed to allow for improvements in public transport and a more generous scrappage scheme.

In a letter to Mr Khan, he said: “In our current difficult economic situation, residents and business need more time to exchange their vehicles, giving the cost-of-living crisis.”

An estimated 200,000 vehicles in the wider zone will be liable for the charge.

Most petrol cars and vans built since 2006 – those with a “Euro 4” engine – are compliant, as are diesels built since 2016 – those with a “Euro 6” engine.