A rebel council promised to fight the mayor’s ‘outrageous’ plan which backers say will benefit millions with cleaner air
A rebel south London council has vowed to block the installation of cameras used to enforce the unpopular extension of Sadiq Khan’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (Ulez) charge across London.
The Sutton Liberal Democrats, who control the outer London Borough, issued a statement promising to fight the mayor’s “unfair” plan and reject Transport for London’s roll-out of Ulez cameras across the borough.
It comes as a group of four other outer London Boroughs have revealed that they are considering legal action in response to the policy, and have sent a joint pre-action protocol letter to the mayor’s office seeking evidence on the lawfulness of his decision.
Sutton Council has said it will only change its decision to block the cameras once the mayor has set up a proper scrappage scheme for those with non-compliant cars, or a longer period was given for people to change their vehicles.
Mr Khan announced last year that he would be intending to expand Ulez across all 32 London boroughs, with the most polluting vehicles required to pay a £12.50 charge per day to drive in the capital.
‘Five million will have cleaner air’
The mayor’s office has stressed that the extension, which will come into effect in August, will ensure that five million Londoners will benefit from cleaner air.
However, it is unpopular with residents in the capital, with two thirds of the public declaring their opposition to the scheme during TfL’s consultation.
This has led to several councils banding together to demand greater transparency from the mayor. Bromley, Bexley, Hillingdon and Harrow have said that they are now examining the legality of the extension and sent a pre-action protocol letter this week demanding answers.
In a statement, the leader of Bromley Council said that the mayor’s decision “blatantly ignored” the opinions of the majority of Londoners and accused TfL of using “questionable, selective and incomplete findings” to justify the action.
Bexley and Hillingdon said that until it saw compelling evidence to the contrary, it believed the policy would not work and the negative impact on households would outweigh the negligible air quality benefits.
Sutton is refusing to sign the official agreement that will greenlight the roll-out, and has pledged to block funds from going towards any installation.
The council said: “We are taking this step to send a strong signal to the mayor that he must start listening to local people.
“Though the mayor has the right to overrule us, and may attempt to force this unpopular decision on the residents of Sutton, we are clear that would be the wrong thing to do.”
Drivers must pay the Ulez charge if their vehicle does not meet required Euro emissions standards for their model and make. Currently it only operates within central London.
TfL estimates that about 160,000 cars and 42,000 vans will be required to pay when extended.
‘Decision will be life-saving’
Analysis by The Telegraph last year found that it could generate as much as £400 million a year for the London mayor.
Nick Rogers, Greater London Authority Conservatives transport spokesperson, said: “I am pleased that many boroughs are already taking action to protect residents from Sadiq Khan’s Ulez tax and would encourage all boroughs to do likewise.”
A spokesperson for the mayor said that it was not an easy decision to expand Ulez but a necessary one, adding that 4,000 Londoners die prematurely due to toxic air.
He said the mayor is aware of the letter and will respond in due course and he will continue to work with all boroughs to help them prepare for a “life-saving” change to the city.