Nigel Farage has branded the new expansion to the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London as the “worst piece of legislation I’ve ever seen.”
This comes as a several hundred-strong, cross-party group of protestors gathered outside Downing Street today to express dissatisfaction at the scheme.
Speaking to The Epoch Times Mr. Farage said: “Well, I live at the furthest point from Central London, where the ULEZ cameras are going, literally in my row.
The new legislation came into effect at midnight last night, meaning drivers with non-compliant vehicles within the zone now face a daily £12.50 fee, or a potential £180 fine (reduced to £90 if paid within 14 days).
Conservative Candidate To Scrap Expansion
During the protest, Simon Fawthrop, Conservative Party councillor for Bromley, also voiced steadfast opposition to the scheme. He reiterated the Conservative Mayoral candidate’s intent to swiftly abolish the expansion if she took office.
He added: “Legitimate protests like this will continue. If Khan thinks it’s over, it isn’t. It will continue day after day. It will be relentless.”
Also present, the leader of Reform UK and prominent businessman, Richard Tice, told The Epoch Times that the Reform party was attending with intent to stop the “horrific Ulez extension.”
Speaking in front of Downing Street, ahead of a pivotal year in Reform’s ambitions in the general election, he said: “Today is the day that it starts. Our mayoral candidate Howard Cox will [stop Mr. Khan].
“[Howard Cox] is the only candidate that can defeat him. We’re saying we’ve got to scrap, not only the extension, but also scrap the existing ULEZ, which is also very bad for Londoners. It’s bad for business.
“And then we’ve got to scrap all the LTNs [Low Traffic Neighbourhoods]. We’ve got to lift the 20-mile limit. We’ve got to get London moving. London is struggling
“I mean, Sadiq Khan has destroyed businesses. He’s destroying confidence in London. People are taking their business elsewhere. It’s an absolute catastrophe.”
Greater London Would be Decimated
Howard Cox, the London mayoral candidate for Reform UK, told The Epoch Times that the new ULEZ would “decimate” Greater London.
Mr. Cox highlighted the case of a scaffolding boss, Noel Wilcox who won a recent ruling against TfL, over the legality of signage in the former Low Emission Zone (now replaced by the ULEZ expansion). He claimed that the new zone would face similar legal challenges.
Speaking to this case and other similar stories, he added, “I’m here to get the message across that we don’t need this, it’s got to go.”
Speaking to the issue of similar traffic restrictions being implemented across the country, Mr. Tice added: “These schemes are unnecessary, all over the country. They’re just basically a huge tax on the poorest in society.
“It’s an absolute outrage. We’ll be campaigning against them everywhere. They’ve got to stop all these politicians. They are lying to us.”
Protestors Demand Public Engagement
One of the organisers of the protest, Alan Miller, the founder of cross-party pressure group Together Declaration, underscored the group’s continued focus on public engagement and democratic participation.
Pointing to this protest as a pivotal example of the action they would continue to take, Mr. Miller criticised the perceived disregard and disrespect the group has faced in challenging the ULEZ expansion.
Mr. Miller said: “We were always interested in the public and the public’s role, the fact that we should have a democratic ability to be engaged with and that we [the public]should be front and centre.
“So we’re going to be continuing addressing issues that pertain to that. This [ULEZ] is one of the key ones, right?”
Mr. Miller continued: “We’ve been ignored and treated with contempt. And he [Mr. Khan] thinks it is just going to go away, a bit like with a smoking ban. It’s very different.”
Suggesting that there was a “direct relationship to road closures, bollards, surveillance cameras, low traffic neighbourhoods” and warning against the rollout of such measures in other cities around the UK, he added: “I don’t want to live in a country where we constantly got [sic]to pay tolls.”
Visually, the protest today was a whirl of hi-viz jackets and increasingly creative slogans, all expressing a general apathy to Mr. Khan’s tenure as mayor.
Bikers Having To Fork Out
Taxi drivers and bikers stood alongside motorists and lorry drivers, protesting a perceived lack of direct action from the government, despite its open opposition to Mr. Khan’s expansion.
Some bike-owning protesters detailed to The Epoch Times that despite owning brand new motorbikes, they would have to fork out “more than £10,000” to re-purchase a fully compliant bike.
They added that while the Mayor’s scrappage scheme will help motorists, bikers will be left stranded without financial support.
Local voters stood neck and neck with famous faces from the anti-ULEZ movement as speeches were given on the pavement outside the Prime Minister’s residence, and a heavy media presence was in evidence.
As a group of men dressed as mourners laid to rest a fake coffin, emblazoned with the word “Democracy” on its side, groups of protestors could be heard chanting, “Get Khan out.”
A Diverse Protest
The Epoch Times perceived the makeup of the protest to be a widely diverse range of ages, ethnicities, professions and political leanings. Previous reports from other media outlets, including the BBC, had been accused of smearing prior ULEZ protests as “far-right.”
On previously retracted characterizations of anti-ULEZ protestors by the BBC, Mr Fawthrop said: “Well, the BBC quite often get it wrong.
“In fact, when it talks about air quality, and 4,000 deaths in the small print, they actually eventually conceded that it was a statistical construct for 4000 people to have died.
“The mainstream media, the same as they did with Nigel Farage, you get a view, and then they’re not prepared to really listen to the facts and the same has happened here.”
The Epoch Times has reached out for comment to City Hall.
The Mayor’s Office has not yet responded.