ULEZ expansion ‘not the answer’: Rebel boroughs Harrow and Bromley warn Khan of impact on ‘poorest and vulnerable’
Harrow and Bromley councils have responded to a letter from Sadiq Khan over the expansion of ULEZ, warning of its impact on the poorest.
Harrow councillor Paul Osborn wrote to Khan earlier this week, reiterating that the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) to include the whole of Greater London was “not the answer” to London’s air pollution problems.
Set to be implemented from late August to help clean the capital’s air, the traffic charge will force vehicles that don’t meet environmental standards to pay a daily charge of £12.50 to enter the area.
According to the council leader, the ULEZ expansion is weighing heavily on the minds of “poorest and most vulnerable” residents in Harrow.
“They cannot afford to replace their vehicles, which they are reliant on, and they will also struggle to pay your ULEZ tax,” Osborn wrote.
“Your indifference to their financial situation has left many of our poorest residents and struggling businesses filled with anxiety.
“I hope you will reconsider this ill-conceived expansion and choose instead to work constructively with us to put residents first.”
City Hall was approached for comment.
Osborn’s words came a day after Khan submitted a letter to council leaders in Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon, which last week refused to cooperate with TfL’s plans to install ULEZ cameras while previously threatening legal action.
In a letter sent on Sunday night, the mayor warned them against pursuing further legal action, saying that any lawsuit will likely be “unsuccessful.”
Khan has also insisted that expanding the ULEZ is not about bringing money into TfL’s coffers but preserving the health of all Londoners.
“Research by Imperial College London shows that Bromley has the highest premature deaths linked to air pollution of all London boroughs – with an estimated 204 lives lost in 2019,” the mayor wrote on Sunday.
“In Bexley, it is 162 lives lost, in Harrow 118 lives lost, and in Hillingdon 155 people are estimated to have lost their lives because of conditions linked to air pollution.”
The research was refuted by the leader of Bromley council, Colin Smith, who said the claims were “complete nonsense”.
“Factually, Bromley is a very healthy borough with a low overall mortality rate,” Smith added.
“The fraction of mortality attributable to air pollution in Bromley is actually the third lowest in London.”
A close source to the mayor said Smiths’ comment seemed to downplay the impact of poor air quality on the health of older Londoners.
“The fact that older people are more vulnerable to these diseases make action on air quality more vital, not less,” they said.
“And for a Tory Council Leader to lecture anyone on the cost-of-living crisis, given the chaos his party has overseen with soaring mortgage payments and energy bills – that takes real chutzpah.”
The four Tory boroughs are not the only ones to oppose the ULEZ expansion, as three boroughs governed by the Lib Dems are also going against the measure.
Over the past few weeks, the boroughs of Sutton, Kingston and Richmond have called on Khan to delay the rollout of ULEZ, citing higher costs of living.
The calls for a delayed action come despite the fact that all three councils have pledged to take bold action to clean their boroughs’ air, the London Labour Party exclusively told City A.M.
“How can you say that air pollution is a serious public health emergency directly harming children, but then block the policy which will do most to improve air quality all across London?,” said Labour MP for Putney Fleur Anderson.
“The Lib Dems teaming up with the Tories and fuel lobby shows they’ve got no credibility as an environmentally friendly party.”
Richmond, Sutton and Kingston were approached for comment.