Labour’s ULEZ launched in Croydon

I’m sad to have to say that Labour’s outer London Ultra-Low Emission Zone went live on 29th August – including almost all of Croydon.

Sadiq Khan’s decision to implement this swingeing new tax on travel means that residents who use older vehicles to get to work, for the school run or to attend vital appointments will now be charged £12.50 a day –or £4,500 a year if used daily – just to get around. This will disproportionately impact people on lower incomes (who trend to have older cars), stymie business and deter people from coming from elsewhere to visit Croydon.  This is a terrible imposition – especially given that outer London has a much sparser public transport network than inner London.

Khan tried to claim that only a small number of cars are affected – but analysis of DVLA records by the RAC showed that a quarter of London cars are affected, plus many more vans and commercial vehicles.

What makes the ULEZ expansion all the more dismaying is that Sadiq Khan’s own impact assessment found that the scheme will make very little difference to reducing air pollution. A report published in May by Jacobs Solutions, who had been commissioned by the Mayor of London’s Office, found that in outer London concentration of particulate matter would drop by only 0.1% and Nitrogen Dioxide by only 1.4%. The same study found no impact on carbon emissions. Even in central London where there is already a ULEZ, Imperial College’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering found in November 2021 that nitrogen dioxide only fell by 3% (not the 29% claimed by Mayor Khan). And I am sure you were as shocked as me was to read recent reports that Khan’s office tried to cajole academics (who received research funding from the Mayor of London) to issue statements undermining the findings of independent reports showing that ULEZ had little impact.

There are of course ways that will clean up our air which I support – for example, more electric charging points to encourage electric car uptake;  introducing cleaner buses; combatting engine idling; and planting more trees to absorb pollution.

You may have seen claims that the Government forced Khan to expand ULEZ to cover all of Greater London.  These claims have been comprehensively debunked by the independent Full Fact organisation here: fact check (the letter from Grant Shapps dated 2020 that sometimes gets sent around related to expanding the inner London ULEZ to the north and south circular only, and not to outer London).  The Government even expressly prohibited the use of TfL bailout money provide centrally from being used to expand the ULEZ to outer London.

Five Conservative councils took Khan to try to court to stop the outer London ULEZ, but they were defeated in July.  The Transport Secretary has now said he will introduce a new law to require the consent of local authorities before this kind of thing can happen in the future – so local councils like Croydon would have a veto.

Our own Mayor in Croydon, Jason Perry, rightly refused to cooperate with Khan in putting up ULEZ cameras and signage on our local roads. However, Khan invoked TfL’s statutory ‘direct installation powers’ to allow Khan to install ULEZ cameras and signs in Croydon without local consent.

Sadly, Labour and the Lib Dems both locally here in Croydon and in City Hall have backed the outer London ULEZ.  It is very disappointing that Labour in Croydon has actively supported the outer London ULEZ, despite the fact that 5,000 local residents signed my petition opposing it.

There is one last chance to stop ULEZ: Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, Susan Hall, is running against Sadiq Khan in next May’s election and she has pledged to axe the outer London ULEZ if she is elected.

In the meantime, we are stuck with Labour’s outer London ULEZ – and those least able to afford it and local businesses will bear the burden of Labour’s posturing.