Saturday, September 30, 2023

Ulez: Sadiq Khan says Home Counties should have own scrappage schemes

SADIQ Khan has said the Home Counties should create their own schemes to help people cope with the expanded ultra low emission zone (Ulez) reports the Local Democracy Reporter.

The Labour mayor of London has now opened up Transport for London’s (TfL) scrappage scheme to Londoners with a non-compliant vehicle.

There is no support for those who live outside London but regularly come into the capital for work or appointments. 

Kent and Surrey county councils said the scheme should be extended to all. 

On Thursday, Mr Khan extended the scrappage scheme so that vehicles could be exchanged for grants to the value of £2,000 for cars being destroyed, and £1000 for motorbikes.

n a message to the county councils bordering London, Mr Khan said: “You should be supporting your residents like Merton Council and others have been doing.”

Merton – a Labour-run borough in south-west London – announced this week that it was launching its own £1m scrappage scheme, with residents soon able to apply for £1,000 grants, regardless of whether they had also applied to TfL’s scheme.

Of the counties surrounding London, only one has granted City Hall permission to erect Ulez signs warning motorists they are about to enter the zone.

The six councils refusing to erect the signage are all Conservative-run.

Surrey County Council, along with the Tory-run London boroughs of Bromley, Bexley, Harrow and Hillingdon, failed in getting the High Court to declare the Ulez expansion unlawful.

Speaking on Friday, Mr Khan said he was disappointed that more than a million pounds had been “wasted on court fees and lawyers” and that the money should have been used to support residents.

“What I’d say to those county councils outside London is two things – one is, you should be supporting your residents like Merton Council and others have been doing.

“But secondly – the government is your government, they’re from your party. Why don’t you join me on a cross-party basis to lobby this government [for more scrappage funding]?”

In response, Surrey’s cabinet member for transport, infrastructure and growth, Matt Furniss, said the mayor had never addressed its concerns.

“We continue to urge the mayor and TfL to do what is right and extend the scrappage scheme outside of London for those that are impacted, provide exemption for key workers, and provide more and better bus routes between Surrey and London,” he said.

Roger Gough, leader of Kent County Council, said the scrappage scheme extension reinforced its concern that mitigations were only available to London residents so TfL would be “funded by charges on our residents”.

Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire Council, said: “If the mayor of London sees fit to compensate his own residents through extending the scrappage scheme he should do the same to the equally impacted residents of Buckinghamshire who are obliged to travel into London for work, health and other necessary reasons.”

The Ulez requires drivers of non-compliant vehicles to pay a £12.50 daily charge, in order to drive within the zone.

It currently covers the area within the North and South Circular Roads, but is expanding on 29 August to cover the whole of Greater London.

In a statement, the Department of Transport said the mayor had to “justify his decision to expand the Ulez”.

“At a time when the government is doing everything it can to support people with the cost of living, it is for the mayor to explain why he thinks it is fair to change those with non-compliant vehicles £12.50 every time they drive.”

It said since 2020, it had provided TfL with £102m for projects specifically aimed at tackling pollution. 

It added the Clean Air Fund was available to local authorities wanting to cover vehicle upgrade and scrappage schemes. 

As air quality matters are devolved to the mayor in London, therefore the city is not eligible for the fund.


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