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Living within the perimeter of the M25 motorway which circles London and its outskirts, means local car journeys to shops or countryside walks, or to access the M25 itself, have me crossing briefly into parts of Greater London without a second thought. Although I’m lucky enough to drive an ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’ compliant car, I’m angered by London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to ignore thousands of people’s concerns and expand the ULEZ zone throughout Greater London. How does he think tradespeople and other small businesses living or operating around the expanded zone - or who have to drive across it to visit clients way out of London, will cope if they can’t afford to upgrade their vehicles to avoid the £12.50 daily ‘fine’ for non-compliance? Like many of us they’re struggling to cope with significant rises in inflation and operating costs and these charges will only exacerbate the issues. While price increases may cover the costs, these will only work if customers can afford to pay extra. I fear that hundreds of businesses will be forced to close.
Some tradespeople working in the current ULEZ zone have resorted to lugging heavy toolbags and equipment around on the tube, but tubes don’t adequately cover the expanded zone and aren’t an option for those who need to cross briefly into the zone to travel further afield. Or a window cleaner with a ladder, or a carpet & upholstery cleaning professional, for that matter.
People all around the M25’s interior are angry about the decision, which like so many other new city road schemes, doesn’t seem to have been thought through. My own MP is against it and appears to subtly support the handful of councils refusing to erect the CCTV cameras required to police it. I’m with him on that one!
New figures from Auto Trader show that van operators will struggle to buy compliant vehicles in time for the zone’s expansion on 29th August. Logistics UK, which represents 18,000+ transport industry companies, says supply chain issues have caused new van registrations in 2022 to be at their lowest since 2013 and that the introduction of more clean air zones around the country has intensified demand for Euro-6 vehicles and raised prices for second hand purchases too. It’s asking for those who can demonstrate that they have ordered - or plan to order - a compliant vehicle, to remain exempt from additional charges should they not receive delivery in time. While I support this stance, I fear it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I’d like the expansion to be scrapped.
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26th January 2023