Mayor of London accused of being “out of touch” over Ultra-Low Emission Zone comments

By Joe Talora, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan has been accused of “patronising” Londoners and being “out of touch” after suggesting people could buy a second-hand car to avoid the ULEZ charge.

With the Ultra-Low Emission Zone set to be expanded in October this year, the Mayor of London yesterday told the Evening Standard that Londoners could “buy a second-hand vehicle” if they wanted to avoid the £12.50 charge.

Amid concerns that around 100,000 cars in London will not meet the minimum emissions standard when the ULEZ is expanded, Sadiq Khan said that “it isn’t that expensive” to ensure a vehicle is ULEZ compliant and that “all you need is a petrol car that is (newer) than 2005 or a diesel car that is more recent than 2015”.

But Susan Hall, leader of the City Hall Conservatives, has hit out at Mr Khan’s “unhelpful advice” and has called for him to support vehicle scrappage schemes.

Ms Hall said: “Sadiq Khan’s patronising advice to Londoners who can’t afford the ULEZ charge shows he’s completely out of touch. If struggling Londoners can’t afford the £12.50 a day charge, how does the mayor expect them to buy a second-hand car?

“Instead of unhelpful advice, the mayor should support Londoners to scrap older vehicles and avoid the charge.”

Two schemes that allowed Londoners to scrap older non-ULEZ compliant vehicles were suspended by TfL last summer due to high demand and a lack of funding.

But the City Hall Tories earlier this month suggested that the mayor use £50 million from the GLA’s business rates reserves to reopen the schemes.

When the issue was raised at a meeting of the London Assembly today by Conservative member Peter Fortune, Sadiq Khan said that any additional money for TfL would have to be directed towards savings targets.

Mr Khan said: “The challenge is, pursuant to the most recent deal done with the Government, they’re requiring TfL to find an additional £300 million of savings in the year 2021/22 and £730 million of savings by 2022/23, so any additional money we put into TfL would be directed towards the savings requirement from the Government.”

The Mayor of London has called for the Government to provide more financial support for vehicle scrappage schemes and has warned that the existing car and motorcycle scrappage scheme and a scheme that allows charities and small businesses to scrap vehicles are at risk of “using up the money pretty soon”.

According to Mr Khan, vehicle scrappage schemes in the capital have so far paid out £44 million to Londoners who have scrapped their older, more polluting vehicles.

Currently, TfL estimates that 87 per cent of vehicles within the existing Ultra-Low Emission Zone are compliant and do not have to pay the daily charge.

On October 25, the ULEZ will be expanded to the north and south circular roads, but Sadiq Khan today told Assembly Members that 60 per cent of Londoners within the expanded zone do not own cars.

Speaking to Assembly Members today, Mr Khan said that expanding the ULEZ is a “public health matter” and an “issue of social justice”.

He said: “It’s the poorest Londoners, least likely to own cars, who suffer the worst consequences of poor quality air. It’s the poorest children who have the stunted lungs and the poorest adults who have asthma.”

Vehicles can be checked on the TfL website to determine whether or not they are compliant with the Ultra-Low Emission Zone.

Pictured top: Sadiq Khan

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