ULEZ expansion a “nightmare” for motorists and livelihoods, claim residents

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents say the upcoming ULEZ expansion will be a “nightmare” for motorists, with the charge “destroying the livelihood” of those who rely on their cars for a living.

Last Friday, the Mayor of London’s planned expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was ruled lawful by the High Court.

The scheme means people driving old and polluting vehicles in London will be charged £12.50 to use the city’s roads from August 29.

The challenge was launched by the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon, alongside Surrey County Council.

Billy Leverage, 69, is from Locksbottom in Bromley, and returned to live in the area seven years ago. He said the planned expansion has been a “nightmare” for motorists, despite his car not being affected by the scheme.

Mr Leverage said: “These are your key workers. These are your scaffolders. These are your independent builders. It’s not fair to them.”

Barry Dent, 43, is the manager of The Railway Tavern in Bexley town centre.

He said he never thought the zone would expand to outer London, and the scheme has forced his wife to have to sell her car in order to find a compliant vehicle.

Mr Dent said: “It’s not an old car, but we travel pretty much every day, so if you’re working out that you’re going to travel five-days-a-week at £12.50 a day, that’s £62.50 a week.

“They’re taking away people’s livelihoods, all these people that drive for a living.”

Conservative councillor Theresa O’Neill, leader of Bexley council, said she was “deeply disappointed” by the outcome of the judicial review and financial burden the charge would bring to residents.

She said she would continue to call on the Mayor of London to delay implementing the scheme.

Cllr O’Neill said: “At the start of this fight we were open about the funds set aside. Services have not suffered as a result of us being part of the coalition and we do not regret taking this action on behalf of Bexley residents and businesses.”

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor has been clear that while the decision to expand ULEZ was an incredibly difficult one, he could not stand by and do nothing while around 4,000 Londoners are dying prematurely each year due to 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.”

Pictured top: Barry Dent (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

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