In a heated session of the Mayor’s questions today, the Liberal Democrats once again urged Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan to reconsider his ULEZ Scrappage Scheme in light of the upcoming expansion of the ultra-low emission zone on August 29th.
The party argued that the current scheme falls short of expectations and fails to provide adequate assistance to Londoners.
In a significant development for Harrow at the end of last month, the High Court announced the inclusion of further grounds for a challenge in the Judicial Review filed by a coalition of councils, including Harrow, against the proposed expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
However, The Mayor’s scrappage scheme was designed to aid residents in outer London in scrapping or retrofitting their non-compliant vehicles – the Liberal Democrats contend that it is not comprehensive enough.
They had previously proposed a scheme twice the size of the Mayor’s initiative, which received support from Conservative and Green Party London Assembly Members but was ultimately rejected by Labour politicians.
Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon highlighted the need for an amnesty period, suggesting that instead of immediately issuing fines, drivers who do not comply with ULEZ regulations should initially receive warning letters for a few weeks.
Pidgeon expressed her concerns, stating, “Only a quarter of the Mayor’s scrappage scheme funds have been allocated despite the ULEZ expansion only being a few weeks away. This is because the scheme doesn’t go far enough. The amount of support being offered to people isn’t enough to make a significant difference, especially since the price of ULEZ-compliant cars has increased since announcing the expansion.”
She added that even with the so-called expansion of the scheme, many businesses are still being left out. Pidgeon shared the story of a resident who, due to being in a simple partnership with his wife and not registered with Companies House or earning enough to pay VAT, is unable to apply as a sole trader or micro-business. The Liberal Democrats argue that all Londoners should have access to the scheme, rather than limiting it to specific groups.
With the approaching deadline of August 29th, Pidgeon called for an initial amnesty period during which warning letters would be sent instead of fines. She vowed to continue pushing the Mayor to address the struggles faced by Londoners in the Cost-of-Living Crisis and to consider the Liberal Democrats’ proposal to double the size of the scrappage scheme, ensuring all Outer Londoners can effectively cope with the ULEZ expansion.
The call from the Liberal Democrats adds to the ongoing debate surrounding the ULEZ and its associated initiatives, shedding light on the concerns of residents and businesses affected by the impending changes.
As London braces itself for the expanded ultra-low emission zone, the pressure on Mayor Sadiq Khan to reconsider the scrappage scheme intensifies.