ULEZ: More than half of London’s Conservative voters back damage to cameras, YouGov poll suggests

A growing number of ULEZ cameras were being damaged in the lead up to the expansion, on August 29. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images.
A growing number of ULEZ cameras were being damaged in the lead up to the expansion, on August 29. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images.

More than half of Londoners looking to vote Conservative at the next mayoral election support damage to Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) cameras, new polling has indicated.

The survey, compiled by YouGov for ITV and conducted between August 9 and 14, asked residents how they felt about the ULEZ expansion.

On August 29, the clean-air zone was extended from the North and South Circular roads to cover the whole of greater London, meaning any driver of a non-compliant vehicle in the capital is now liable to pay a £12.50 daily charge.

2023 London ULEZ expansion map
2023 London ULEZ expansion map

The mayor, Sadiq Khan, called it a “landmark day”, though several protests were held in opposition to the move.

Surveying 1,000 adults in London, YouGov’s poll found that while there was more support for (47%) than against (42%) the ULEZ expansion among all respondents, there were clear divisions between those living in inner and outer London.

Strong backing of the scheme was indicated by those based in inner London, with 62% in support and 26% against. This was reversed, if not quite to the same degree, when comparing the data to respondents based in outer London, where opposition to the expansion (51%) outweighed the support (38%).

Those looking to vote Conservative at next year’s mayoral election meanwhile were overwhelmingly against the zone’s extension (75%). In contrast, 74% of respondents planning on voting Labour backed it, more even than those intending on voting Green (63%).

Another question the survey posed was, firstly, whether respondents were aware of the damage to cameras, and secondly, whether they are for or against the vandalism.

While a majority in most groups said they had not heard much about it, Conservative voters indicated they largely support damage to the cameras, with 55% in-favour and 35% against, with 10% stating they don’t know.

There was no such majority among any other party’s supporters, with most respondents in both inner and outer London also saying they oppose the damage.

Where there was closer allegiance was on the topic of the level of support provided by the mayor, and whether this was adequate.

Under the scrappage scheme, all drivers of non-compliant cars could receive a £2,000 grant from Transport for London (TfL), with a range of other options available for businesses, charities and other affected groups.

YouGov’s survey however suggested neither inner nor outer London residents believed the mayor’s support had gone far enough, with Labour voters the only political group believing Mr Khan was “doing everything he reasonably can”.

Damage to ULEZ cameras had reportedly been growing in the lead up to the zone’s expansion, with a TfL spokesperson telling LondonWorld such vandalism is “unacceptable”.

Sir Ian Duncan Smith, the Tory MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, most of which is now covered by the ULEZ, recently told the Daily Mail he is “happy” for people in his constituency to damage cameras “because they are facing an imposition that no-one wants and they have been lied to about it”.

He later told the Evening Standard he does not condone law breaking “of any kind”.

Commenting on the data, a spokesperson for Mr Khan said: “The mayor has been clear that the decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide was not an easy one, but necessary to tackle toxic air pollution.

“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year due to toxic air pollution, children are growing up with stunted lungs and thousands of people in our city are developing life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma. Outer London deserves to see the same benefits from the ULEZ as inner London and by expanding the ULEZ, five million more Londoners will be able to breathe cleaner air.

“Nine out of 10 cars seen driving in the expanded zone on an average day won’t have to pay a penny and all Londoners with a non-compliant car are now eligible for thousands of pounds of help.

“People are of course entitled to show their opposition to policies peacefully and lawfully. But causing criminal damage is never acceptable. All incidents are reported to the police for investigation, arrests have been made and the Met and TfL are using new methods to catch those responsible and increase the security of the ULEZ cameras – including Operation Eremon, which proactively targets those intent on causing damage.”

Conservative mayoral candidate, Susan Hall, has been approached for comment.