Each council that challenged the ULEZ expansion in court forked out almost £150,000, it has been revealed. Harrow was one of five Tory council’s that failed in a battle against the scheme through the courts earlier this year.
Harrow Council, alongside Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon, and Surrey, launched a judicial review against Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s plans to extend the £12.50 daily charge to include outer London boroughs back in February of this year. The attempt failed when a July ruling deemed the mayor’s plan was “within his powers”.
It has now been revealed that the councils spent a total of £730,941 fighting the expansion, meaning each council will pay £147,853.20. The costs include £230,941 in expenses and £500,000 in legal costs to Transport for London (TfL). Leader of Harrow Council, Cllr Paul Osborn, feels the cost “was justified” to protect residents during a cost-of-living crisis.
Sadiq Khan said the expansion will reduce emissions and improve air quality in the capital and called the judge’s ruling a “landmark decision”. Prior to its implementation on August 29, Harrow Council claimed the changes wouldn’t make a difference to air quality and would disproportionately affect poorer people in the borough.
New analysis by the University of Bath shows that the introduction of the first LEZ and ULEZ zones in London 15 years ago has significantly improved air quality. They found that the schemes have both health and economic benefits but said more was needed to be done to limit the impact on poorer drivers.
Data from a report by City Hall suggests that from August 29 to September 30, the expansion generated £23.6m from 57,200 drivers paying the daily charge, according to analysis by the BBC. The same report shows ULEZ compliant vehicles in both inner and outer London is at 95 per cent.
Cllr Osborn told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “We continue to oppose the Mayor’s money-grabbing ULEZ expansion. The supposed justification for this expansion is questionable given the accusations that senior staff for the Mayor’s Office leaned on scientists to give more favourable statements on the merits of the expansion.”
He added: “To get as far as we did, where the Judge decided that there was a case for the Mayor to answer shows that we had a reasonable chance of success to justify proceeding with the Judicial Review.
“Given the Mayor’s ULEZ expansion has already squeezed at least £23.6m from over 57,000 of outer London’s poorest motorists, we feel this cost was justified in trying to protect our residents from this unnecessary tax in the middle of a cost of living crisis.”
Leader of the Harrow Labour Group, Cllr David Perry, said he wasn’t provided with the full legal advice on the issue prior to the leadership deciding to “press ahead with legal action”.
He added: “I suspect the council were well aware of the strong likelihood of losing a legal challenge and so it is very disappointing that at a time when we are cutting the social carers supporting vulnerable residents and the fly-tipping enforcement team to name a few, the Conservatives choose politics over the needs of the borough.”