Sadiq Khan’s controversial plans to extend ULEZ have been slammed on BBC Question Time amid claims night workers face being forced to pay the £12.50 levy twice per shift.
The Mayor of London is pushing on with plans to extend the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ), which currently covers areas within the North and South Circular roads, taking in most of Greater London by August 2023.
The plans, which aim to improve London’s air quality, have proved divisive with some resorting to stealing and defacing enforcement cameras in protest.
Opponents say the outer London expansion ‘penalises’ hard-working Britons during a cost-of-living crisis, including night time shift workers who may be forced to pay the twice.
One audience member on last night’s BBC Question Time, hosted in Gravesend, Kent, said it felt like ‘an added tax on people who can’t afford it’.
The ULEZ expansion, set to come in on August 29, will cover most of Greater London
Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion plans have been met with wide-ranging opposition – but they are also supported by clean air campaigners
When debating whether the way ULEZ expansion plans were being rolled out was democratic, one woman said: ‘It it does feel like you’re being penalised for wanting to go to work.
‘My father is a shift worker so he would be charged going in the night and coming back in the morning, so twice a day sometimes.
‘It’s unaffordable. The ordinary citizen is already asked to sacrifice so much. It feels like an added tax on people who can’t afford it.’
What is ULEZ? Your key questions answered
ULEZ is expanding across all London boroughs from August 29, 2023. Here are 12 key questions about the scheme:
– What vehicles are affected? It depends how much nitrogen dioxide it emits, which is usually linked to its age. For diesel cars, most compliant vehicles were registered after September 2015, while petrol cars are typically registered after 2005.
– How can I check the status of my vehicle? TfL urges motorists to use its online checker by visiting www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle.
– What is the charge for non-compliant vehicles? The daily fee is £12.50 for cars, motorcycles and vans up to 3.5 tons. Heavier vehicles are charged £100.
– When do charges apply? All day, every day of the year except Christmas Day.
– What is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)? An area in London where older, more polluting vehicles are charged a daily fee.
– What has changed since it first came in? Previously only covered parts of central London, but in October it became 18 times larger.
– What are the boundaries? ULEZ was extended to include all areas within the North and South Circular roads.
– Who has done this and why? London Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced it to improve air quality.
– How quickly do I have to pay? Until midnight on the 3rd day after a journey.
– How do I do it? You can pay online through TfL’s website, using the Pay to Drive in London app, or by phone. Drivers also have the option to set up automatic billing.
– What happens if I do not pay? You could be handed a £160 fine, reduced to £80 if paid within a fortnight.
-Where does the money go? TfL says the cash it receives from the ULEZ is reinvested into improving London’s transport network and to improve air quality. It insists ‘we don’t make a profit’ from the scheme.
Host Fiona Bruce then put it to the panel, who were all united in their desire for cleaner air in London but were divided over the plans.
Former Dragons Den star and businessman Theo Paphitis accused Mr Khan of doing a ‘botched job’, saying: ‘I think it’s been dealt with incredibly badly’.
Loose Women panelist and MailOnline columnist Janet Street Porter said: ‘We want cleaner air, but I also agree that this isn’t a very democratic policy. It should have gone to a vote.’
Pensions minister Laura Trott said it was ‘an absolute outrage’, adding: ‘It penalises pensioners going to the doctors, it penalises people going to work, it’s got to be stopped. ‘
While Labour MP Peter Kyle said he supported taking action on air pollution, he conceded that ULEZ was ‘clearly divisive’.
He told the audience: ‘We have to move forward, but we have to move forward in a way that takes people with us.
‘I accept that some people are finding this really difficult.’
Mr Khan faces wide-ranging opposition for his ULEZ expansion plans which are set to force Londoners in all boroughs to pay £12.50-a-day to drive in the capital from August 29, if their cars don’t meet certain environmental standards.
However, they are also supported by clean air campaigners.
Since taking on the role of London Mayor in 2016, Mr Khan has made tackling the capital’s air quality one of his top priorities.
Data released last month by the Mayor’s office showed major improvements in London’s air pollution since 2016.
Outer London ULEZ expansion is set to improve air quality for five million more Londoners, it is claimed.
Defending his plans, Mr Khan said: ‘This new data shows that we have every reason to be hopeful about the future of our city if we continue to take bold action.
‘The impressive rate of reductions in harmful pollution since 2016 highlights that world-leading policies, like ULEZ, are helping us to deliver a greener, safer, cleaner London.
‘But the data also makes clear we have some way to go.
‘I’m determined to build on the progress made and deliver the bold action needed to ensure all Londoners are able to breathe clean air, starting with the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide this August.’
However ULEZ has proved controversial, with the Mayor’s own report finding expansion plans will have a ‘disproportionate negative impact’ on people with restricted mobility including parents with young children and care workers.
It also identified that there would be a ‘negative impact’ on women taking their children to school and travelling alone late at night.
Campaigners from The Women’s Equality Party warned the expansion would mean many women living in outer London would have ‘their access to transport restricted in the middle of a cost of living crisis’.
An audience member blasted ULEZ for being ‘unaffordable’ and an ‘added tax’ on people who cannot afford it
Sadiq Khan’s controversial ULEZ expansion plans were debated on BBC Question Time last night
A report into the Ulez expansion scheme warned it would have a disproportionate ‘negative impact’ on women living in London. Pictured are Ulez protesters on April 15
The scheme has triggered such outrage that furious Londoners have resorted to stealing and defacing dozens of Ulez cameras in protest.
Last week, police charged a second man with smashing up ULEZ cameras after officers launched a ‘proactive operation’ following 96 reported incidents of criminal damage across the capital.
Mr Khan himself has also been targeted by anti-ULEZ protesters, who heckled the London Mayor as he promoted his new book about climate change at the Royal Festival Hall this week.
Janet Street Porter, Munira Wilson and Peter Kyle debated whether ULEZ expansion plans were ‘democratic’
Mr Khan was sat on stage opposite LBC presenter James O’Brien speaking about his new book Breathe: Tackling the climate emergency, which details his goal to make London a cleaner city.
A group of around five men and one woman interrupted the mayor, shouting about the controversial Ultra-Low Emission Zones scheme, which will see the worse-polluting vehicles hit with the £12.50 daily charge.
One of Mr Khan’s brothers told them to be quiet, at which point one of the men threatened to fight him, the Evening Standard reported.
The Mayor’s Office has been contacted for comment.
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