Sadiq Khan has suggested that the Home Counties create their own scrappage schemes to help people outside London cope financially with the soon-to-expand Ultra low emission zone (Ulez).
The mayor announced late on Thursday evening that he is opening up Transport for London’s (TfL) Ulez scrappage scheme to every Londoner who has a non-compliant vehicle – along with the addition of £50m to the fund.
This will enable Londoners to scrap their vehicles in exchange for grants to the value of £2000 for cars being destroyed, and £1000 for motorbikes.
But no support was announced for people who live just outside London, even if they regularly come into the capital by car for work, leisure or other appointments.
In 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 is launching its own £1m scrappage scheme, with residents soon able to apply for £1000 grants, regardless of whether they’ve also applied to TfL’s scheme.
The Home Counties surrounding London have taken a mostly hostile approach to the Ulez’s upcoming expansion – only one of the seven councils bordering the capital has granted permission for City Hall to erect Ulez signs warning motorists they are entering the zone.
The six councils refusing to erect the signage are all Conservative-run.
One of them, Surrey County Council, last month failed in a High Court case to have the Ulez expansion declared unlawful – as part of a challenge it had launched alongside the Tory-run London boroughs of Bromley, Bexley, Harrow and Hillingdon.
Speaking on Friday, the mayor said: “One of the things I’m disappointed by, is rather than their council supporting them with a scrappage scheme, or lobbying the Government [for funding], they [the Home Counties’ councils] would rather spend money on court fees and lawyers.”
“More than a million pounds [was] wasted on court fees and lawyers – imagine how many vehicles could have been scrapped, how many residents could have been supported.
“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]?”
Approached for a response, Surrey County Council said Mr Khan and TfL should extend London’s existing scrappage scheme to cover Surrey.
Matt Furniss, the authority’s cabinet member for transport, infrastructure and growth, said: “This has always been about protecting Surrey residents, many of whom will now be significantly socially and financially impacted by the mayor’s decision as they go about essential, everyday journeys, without any mitigation in place to minimise this.
“Our concerns, which have never been addressed by the mayor despite our continued efforts, forced these legal proceedings to ensure we did all we possibly could to have the voice of our residents heard.
“Whilst the extended scrappage scheme looks to be a step in the right direction, this will have no impact on those outside of London. Combined with the recent decision to withdraw the day travelcard, it is now increasingly difficult for those outside of London to travel in and out at a fair price.
“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.”
Roger Gough, leader of Kent County Council, said: “[This] announcement [of a wider London scrappage scheme] reinforces our concern that mitigations are available to London residents but not Kent and other around London residents who will be hit by Ulez – and so TfL will be funded by charges on our residents…
“By expanding Ulez without the same mitigations for Kent people, charities and businesses afforded to those in the capital, the mayor will place an additional burden on already stretched households during a cost-of-living crisis.
“That is why, while KCC did not take part in the judicial review, I wrote to Mayor Sadiq Khan in July following previous representations urging him to see sense and reverse his decision, while calling for further talks to discuss how the aim of improving air quality could be met without an unmitigated impact on communities across the home counties. I welcome those talks at the earliest opportunity.”
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 August 29 to cover the whole of Greater London.
According to TfL, nine out of ten cars seen driving on average in outer London are compliant with the Ulez emission rules.