Sadiq Khan has refused to ditch the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) today following a marathon five-hour meeting to agree London’s £19bn budget.
London assembly members met today to agree the mayor’s plans for running the capital’s finances over the next year – including cash for the Met Police, TfL and firefighters.
During the debate, assembly members voted down a Conservative amendment to the budget that urged Khan to scrap the ULEZ expansion and cancel his 9.7 per cent council tax increase.
Tory members also wanted to spend £500m to speed up the transition to a zero emission bus fleet by 2023 and £50m on tackling areas of high air pollution, but both were opposed.
Following the meeting, Conservative group deputy leader Peter Fortune said: “Londoners can now see the truth: Khan’s ULEZ is about making money, not about improving air quality.
“Labour has betrayed clean air campaigners by pretending his ULEZ was about anything more than raising cash. The mayor needs to stop his expansion and focus on helping Londoners with the cost of living and breathing.”
The ULEZ expansion will see the scheme extended across the suburban boroughs of outer London in August, where drivers of non-compliant vehicles will be charged £12.50 a day or risk fines.
But the plans have sparked furious opposition from Tory councils, Labour MPs and even former mayor and PM Boris Johnson.
A spokesperson for the mayor, however, said the Tories’ amendments amounted to “fantasy economics”.
They added: “The Tories have also opposed every single measure to tackle air pollution and climate change in London and now seem determined to reverse the progress we’re making.”
Khan has been “clear that the last thing he wants to do is increase council tax” but that a government funding gap meant he had “no viable alternative”, the spokesperson said.
Earlier today the mayor urged Rishi Sunak to financially support home counties’ residents who drive into the capital with the cost of scrapping or retrofitting their vehicles, and to match the £110m City Hall has allocated to spend on London’s scrappage scheme.
“I urge you to become a doer, rather than a delayer,” he said in a letter to the PM.
A government spokesperson said: “It’s for the mayor to justify his decision to expand the ULEZ, and to properly consult to ensure it is not just a tax on the poorest motorists.”