An east London borough has become the first Labour-led council to publicly question the Mayor of London’s plans to expand the Ulez charge across London.
The leader of Barking and Dagenham council, Darren Rodwell, took to Twitter on Thursday to call for more time for people to switch over to cleaner vehicles, while also questioning the effectiveness of Sadiq Khan’s planned scrappage scheme.
It is the first time a Labour-led council has publicly voiced opposition to the mayor’s current plan, and adds to the growing body of voices raising concerns about the August expansion.
When launched, the Ulez will cover all of London’s 32 boroughs, with drivers having to pay £12.50 a day if their cars do not meet emissions standards. It is estimated that there are around 30,000 non-compliant vans that use the expanded zone each day.
In a message on Twitter, Mr Rodwell, who is campaigning to be the MP for Barking, wrote that people needed a greater lead-in time to take advantage of any scrappage schemes, given the cost-of-living pressures people were facing.
He said that his council had also lobbied for a far more comprehensive and generous scrappage scheme than the current £100m plan.
The intervention by Mr Rodwell is the first major opposition to the current plan by a leader and council from Sadiq Khan’s own party. Over recent weeks, a number of Lib Dem and Conservative-led councils have vowed to take action to stop the expansion. Lib Dem-led Sutton Council, as well as Conservative boroughs Bexley and Harrow, said they would look to block the installation of Ulez cameras within their areas.
There is currently a consortium of four boroughs, including Hillingdon and Bromley, which is looking into legal options to try and force Mr Khan to stop the plan.
In his tweet, Mr Rodwell said he wanted to make it clear that he did not believe that there was a legal basis to challenge Ulez expansion, like other authorities had suggested.
He added: “We must take air quality seriously but any initiatives must take full account of how people will be affected financial and must do as much as possible to mitigate that.”
Mr Khan has repeatedly said that the reason for the Ulez expansion is to reduce air pollution in the city, stating that around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely as a result of toxic air every year.
A GLA spokesperson said: “The Mayor has listened to Londoners … which is why a number of modifications were announced to the scheme following feedback in the consultation.”