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HomeBusinessNorthwood business owner furious over £12.50 ULEZ charge for 'extra 10-yard drive'

Northwood business owner furious over £12.50 ULEZ charge for ‘extra 10-yard drive’

The long-awaited expansion of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) was implemented at the start of the week (August 29), splitting a North West London neighbourhood in two in the process. A recently activated camera has meant drivers in Northwood could face a £12.50 charge by turning into the wrong road.

The new boundary edge runs alongside Green Lane, separating the residential roads streets of Maxwell Road and Hallowell Road from Green Lane. Businesses have said it is already having a huge impact on them.

Farri, 60, owns Cofix Café on Green Lane. He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) back in April that his car didn’t comply with the emissions standards and, unless he bought a new one, he would have to pay the charge every day as he brings stock to work.

During a follow up visit, Farri explained that he could not afford to make the change but has found a temporary solution. He said: “At the moment I am not parking my car on the road with the camera. I have joined the leisure centre [which sits outside of the zone] and they have allowed me to leave my car there.”

Unfortunately, this will no longer be possible when the kids return to school next week (September 5) as the centre will need the parking spaces. From then on, Farri will have to pay £12.50 every day to travel “the extra ten yards” to work.

The ULEZ camera has been installed at the top of Hallowell Road, right round the corner from Cofix, where Farri used to park to unload his stock. He said: “It’s in the worst location for the businesses along here. Not just me, everybody is angry.”

He adds: “It’s silly, honestly silly. I go to the cash and carry everyday, for cans of tomato and everything, going the extra five yards will now cost £12.50. For that I have to sell an extra 10 teas, I’m already working a 90 hour week because I am low on staff.”

It’s the same story for Oktay, 32, a fast food delivery driver in the area. He told the LDRS that his scooter isn’t ULEZ compliant and he passes the camera on every shift. Many businesses are able to pass on the cost to customers but he explains how this isn’t possible in his line of work.

Oktay said: “I used to get tips from customers when I dropped off the food and that would help cover my transport costs. Now everyone orders and pays on the app and they never add a tip. No one has change on them either anymore so I’m also losing an extra £2 per delivery.”

Northwood business owner furious over £12.50 ULEZ charge for 'extra 10-yard drive' Harrow Online
Oktay, 32. Delivery driver Oktay, 32, says he\’s not able to pass on the extra cost to customers. Image Credit: Facundo Arrizabalaga.

It has been announced that self-employed drivers will be able to claim tax relief on the daily charge. Workers with non-compliant vehicles can claim if their journey was “exclusively for the purposes of the trade”.

In a statement HMRC said: “Self Assessment customers are entitled to tax relief on travel expenses, including low emission zone charges, if they have been incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade. When a self-employed individual claims an allowable expense, the amount is deducted fully from their taxable profits.”

It’s not just those that are directly impacted by ULEZ that are against the expansion. Paull, 44, isn’t a Northwood resident but runs a gardening business and many of his clients live in the area. His van isn’t susceptible to the charge but can “understand the uproar”.

He said: “You can understand in inner London but here is more suburban, more rural, I just don’t think it’s needed. I don’t see the point of it in this sort of area where the air quality should be a lot better already. I’m sure there are better ways of doing it.”

He added: “Where one of my clients is, just down the bottom of the road is where the zone starts. She is not happy because they have two old cars so just driving down the road costs them now.”

Whilst every car on the road appears to be ULEZ compliant, everyone seems to know someone that is being negatively impacted by the scheme. Sofia, 39, explains that some of her friends have needed to change their car to take their kids to work. She adds: “Now their life is difficult as they don’t have any money.”

Sofia has an 08 reg car so hasn’t needed to buy a new one, nor will she have to pay the charge. She jokes: “I get away with it. Just.” Despite the issues, Sofia supports the expansion from a health perspective as she feels the pollution in the area is “sometimes very high”.

She said: “It will be good for everyone’s health. There’s not too much traffic now but when the schools are back it’s really bad along this road in the morning and afternoon so the pollution is awful. Hopefully that changes.”

Northwood business owner furious over £12.50 ULEZ charge for 'extra 10-yard drive' Harrow Online
The new ULEZ camera on Hallowell Road was activated on Tuesday (August 29). Image Credit: Facundo Arrizabalaga. Permission to use with all LDRS partners

Many other residents are supportive of the overall aim to improve air quality, however, they continue to question whether it’s needed this far out of the city. Janet, 74, who’s “amazed” that her 2002 reg car is actually compliant, is one of those.

She said: “Most people think clean air is a good idea in principle but they don’t think this is necessary right out here. It’s done its job in central London but out here I just don’t think you need it.

She added: “It’s also very bad for local businesses. Some have clients that live just up the road and they will have to pass the costs onto their customers. Many small companies will end up going out of business.”

An estimated 155 people die prematurely from toxic air in Hillingdon each year, according to data from the Mayor of London’s office. Research from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) suggests improving air quality in London would provide an economic benefit of almost £500 million per year to the local economy due to fewer days lost due to illness.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said the decision to expand the ULEZ zone “was not an easy one” but it has a duty to tackle toxic air pollution and it will result in cleaner air for millions of residents.

The spokesperson said they understand that businesses “are struggling as a result of the cost of living crisis” and highlighted the £110 million scrappage scheme designed to help micro-businesses and sole traders, as well as charities and those on lower incomes and with disabilities.

Hillingdon, alongside Harrow, 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 the mayor last month (July 28), concluding that the expansion is lawful.

Leader of Hillingdon Council, Cllr Ian Edwards, said he was “hugely disappointed” for residents and businesses that the expansion went ahead but will “continue to fight” through parliament and at next year’s mayoral election.”

Leader of Harrow Council, Cllr Paul Osborn, said: “I firmly believe that ULEZ expansion is the wrong scheme for outer London. We had an arguable case, and the fact that we got this far in our challenge against this unpopular scheme shows that we were right to proceed.”