Harrow Council is pleading with the government to give it the power to ‘reflect the wishes of residents’ and block the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) expansion next week. Harrow Council says it’s ‘unfair’ it has to implement it as there are no Transport for London (TfL) roads in the borough.
Mayor Sadiq Khan is moving ahead with the planned outer-London expansion of ULEZ from August 29, which will charge motorists in all 32 boroughs £12.50 per day if they drive polluting vehicles. Mr Khan says the scheme will “see five million more Londoners being able to breathe cleaner air”.
Leader of Harrow Council, Councillor Paul Osborn, has criticised the “one size fits all” policy. He called the plan “a punitive stealth tax on Harrow’s poorest and most vulnerable motorists” and is asking the government to give local authorities more power to fight it.
Cllr Osborn has written to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, to urge him to adopt Tory peer Lord Moylan’s amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords. It would give council’s a greater say on the mayor’s plans.
Cllr Osborn wrote: “Our residents have made it clear to me how much they oppose the expansion […] Unlike every other London borough, Harrow does not have any TfL roads, so the council alone is responsible for all public roads in the borough.
“Therefore, we find it particularly unfair that we are having this deeply unpopular scheme forced upon us against our will.”
Harrow, alongside Hillingdon, Bexley, Bromley and Surrey Councils, brought the decision before a judicial review earlier in the year. However, the landmark High Court case ruled in favour of Mr Khan last month (July 28), concluding that the expansion is lawful.
Despite this, Cllr Osborn says he “remains firmly of the view that the ULEZ expansion is a punitive stealth tax” and claims stopping it would “help us reduce the pressure on our more vulnerable residents through the current cost of living challenges.”
He adds: “To be clear, I support improving air quality both in Harrow and London as a whole. […] We feel the Mayor would be better off spending the hundreds of millions set aside to fund the ULEZ expansion on improving the underground and bus fleet, as well as supporting Councils to upgrade local infrastructure and public facilities.”
The mayor’s office has said Mr Khan is “doing all he can to support Londoners through the cost of living crisis” but expanding the clean air zone was a “difficult decision but a necessary one” due to the health risk posed by the city’s “toxic air”.
A spokesperson said: “The latest data from Transport for London shows 90 per cent of cars driving in outer London already meet ULEZ standards and the mayor expects the number of compliant vehicles to go up even more over the coming months.
They added: “For drivers of the few non-compliant vehicles, [Mr Khan] has launched the biggest scrappage scheme ever – £110m – to help families on lower incomes, small businesses, charities, sole traders and disabled Londoners replace their vehicle with a less polluting one or move to a cleaner, more active mode of transport.”