Sadiq Khan has announced that hundreds of thousands of motorists will be slapped with a daily charge for driving in any part of London. The London Mayor has expanded London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), which is already in force to the north and south circular roads, to cover all of the capital. This means drivers of the most polluting cars will have to pay £12.50 a day to enter the Greater London Authority boundary.
When added to the congestion charge in central London, the amount drivers pay to get into the capital could amount to £27.50 a day and over £100 a week.
Mr Khan described the announcement as “one of the toughest decisions I have taken”.
TalkTV host Mike Graham blasted the decision, calling it a “money-grab” disguised as a climate change gesture.
He said: “Sadiq Khan is actually going to expand the zone for which you have to pay a bucketload of money each time you drive into London.
“Basically it means for hard-working men and women in this city, it will cost effectively £27.50 every single day you drive into central London.”
He continued: “The Mayor says it is all about saving the planet, that it is all to make emissions come down and to make it safer to walk the streets because of the pollution.
“That’s nonsense. This isn’t about pollution. We all know it’s a money grab. It’s ruining people’s lives and making it impossible for people to get to work.”
Mr Graham also criticised the timing of the decision, saying that the extra charge comes “at a very difficult time when taxes are going up, when everything is more expensive, and when energy prices are rising.”
He added: “You will be paying £100 a week before you make any kind of profit at all. The whole city is grinding to a halt.”
Richard Tice, the leader of Reform UK, called the decision “a financial assault on ordinary people” and warned that other cities across the country may now implement a similar scheme.
Mr Tice said: “Sadiq Khan is attacking ordinary working people trying to do a decent day’s work. This is coming to a city near you.”
A public consultation found 80 percent of people in the affected areas are opposed to the expansion of the zone.
Despite the overwhelming opposition, Mr Khan said five million more people will benefit from cleaner air.
Last week, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted his opposition to the proposed expansion.
He said: “It is not the right time for this measure which would add to people’s cost of living.”
Nick Rogers, from the Greater London Authority (GLA) Conservatives, said: “Now is not the time to hammer Londoners with a £12.50 daily cost-of-living charge.
“Residents have made their views very clear to the mayor: they do not want the ULEZ expansion.
“The mayor must listen to them, scrap these plans and use the £250m saved on real measures that tackle air pollution.”
Brian Gregory, policy director at the Alliance of British Drivers, said that the scheme was simply a way for Mr Khan to fill the “enormous hole in the TfL budget”.
However, environmental campaigners like Greenpeace celebrated the decision.
Sian Berry, a leading figure for the Green Party in London, tweeted: “Finally, after SO many years of Green campaigning, the Mayor has finally had the political courage to act and deliver cleaner air for ALL of London.
“We pushed for a London-wide ULEZ and won!”