Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

Sadiq Khan has a legal battle with councils on his hands over ULEZ

Boris Johnson labels Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ plan ‘mad’

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Five councils have joined forces to launch a judicial review into Sadiq Khan’s plan to expand the ultra-low emission zone to outer London boroughs. The boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon in Greater London, and Surrey County Council, have brought the legal action challenging the mayor of London’s plan.

They plan to oppose the decision by the mayor and Transport for London to expand the ULEZ to outer boroughs of the capital by August.

The local authorities believe expanding the zone will do little to improve air quality and would add more costs for residents who are already struggling with the cost of living crisis.

The coalition is challenging the expansion in the High Court on five grounds, and says Tfl failed to carry out any cost benefit analysis, failed to comply with statutory requirements and failed to consider compliance rates in outer London.

It also says the proposed “scrappage scheme” was not consulted on and claimed there was “inadequate consultation”.

Councillor Colin Smith, leader of Bromley Council, said: “We have been sounding the alarm about Mayor Khan’s attempted tax raid on the Outer ‘London’ suburbs for many months now.

“The fundamental truth as to his true intention is now increasingly plain for all to see.

“In Bromley, this socially regressive tax directly threatens jobs, the viability and availability of small businesses, and causing significant damage to vital care networks, as well as creating a completely avoidable spike in the cost of living locally, at a time when some households are already struggling to make ends meet.

“To attempt to do all of this under cover of a false health scare over air quality, when the mayor’s own research confirms that Bromley has the second cleanest air in London, also, that extending ULEZ to the boundaries of the M25 will make no discernible difference to air quality locally, is frankly unforgivable.

“The upset, pain and anxiety this has caused locally is immense, which is why, even at this late stage, I once again call on the mayor to withdraw this spiteful proposal.”

But a Mayor of London spokesperson said neither the Greater London Authority nor TfL had yet been served with the legal claim.

“We will be defending any challenge to this vital scheme,” the spokesperson said.

Bexley council leader Councillor Baroness O’Neill says “air quality is important but ULEZ is the wrong solution” and Leader of Hillingdon Council Ian Edwards claimed the ULEZ scheme has “negligible or nil impact on air quality.”

Leader of Surrey County Council Tim Oliver added: “We are dismayed at the lack of discussion or consideration given to these proposals by the Mayor of London.

“It’s disappointing that we, along with other local authorities, have to resort to legal proceedings to try and bring the Mayor of London to the table, but we have no choice but to do so.”

The legal action was announced just hours after Unite, the UK’s biggest union, also called on the mayor to halt the expansion.

The BBC reports that the union fears it will impact around 20,000 workers at Heathrow Airport who often drive to work due to unsociable hours.

And former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip is in the borough of Hillingdon, has come out in support of Hillingdon Council in opposing the ULEZ expansion.

He said: “It will hit hardworking families and businesses in outer London with an unfair tax grab.”

Mr Khan says five million more Londoners will breathe cleaner air if the ULEZ zone expands to cover all of Greater London.

If it does happen then vehicles that do not meet up-to-date emissions standards will have to pay a £12.50 ULEZ.

The ULEZ currently covers inner London and applies to petrol cars older than 2005 models and diesel older than 2015.

This is in addition to the £15 daily congestion charge for all vehicles in the very centre of London.

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The expanded ULEZ will be enforced by numberplate recognition cameras, some of which are already in place.

Evening Standard reports that TfL’s most recent report found a 60 percent reduction in the number of “non-compliant” vehicles being driven into or within inner London.

A Mayor of London spokesperson said: “While we’re aware of media speculation that an application for a Judicial Review has been made by four boroughs and Surrey County Council, neither the GLA nor TfL have been served with their claim.

“We will be defending any challenge to this vital scheme.

“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely every year due to air pollution. The Mayor is determined to protect the lives of Londoners who are growing up with stunted lungs and more at risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia due to our toxic air.

“The Mayor urges the councils involved to abandon this costly and unnecessary legal challenge and instead focus on the health of those they represent.”

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