You’ll be aware already of my hatred of the upcoming Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion to cover Greater London and my fears that it will hit many of those working in the cleaning sector very hard. I’d thought I couldn’t get any more cross about the unfairness and craziness of it all, but this week I learned that it’s going to hit nigh-on all Greater-Londoners – and that includes those who own compliant cars. I’ll bet those who’ve perhaps broken the bank to upgrade their cars so they can avoid the £12.50 daily charge for driving in the ULEZ Zone (or £25 if you’re a cleaner whose shifts sometimes run overnight) will be spitting blood.
An article in My London News this week highlighted an aspect of ULEZ expansion that hadn’t previously occurred to me… I’d always assumed that councils have fairly up-to-date vehicles and thus that ULEZ wouldn’t affect the councils themselves or the services they provide. I’d also assumed that any council vehicles that didn’t comply with the emission standards would be exempt anyway. Well, it is the council, after all!
The article warns of council ‘price hikes’, more potholes for road users to contend with and a reduction in other services councils normally provide. It says that “all of the capital's boroughs will have to fork out thousands of pounds to pay the £12.50 daily fee for their non-compliant fleets of vehicles which would in turn, it is claimed, mean the thinning of funding elsewhere.”
Speaking to My London News, Conservative Havering Council councillor David Taylor warned that Havering Council will be liable for around £240,000 of fines a year and that some vehicles will have to be disposed of earlier than planned. If this £240k is replicated in all London Boroughs new to ULEZ, we’re looking at something like £4m a year, raised through council taxes, which won’t be spent on the council services it’s meant for, but will be used to pay ULEZ fines instead. The publication also states that Richmond Council plans to help residents directly with ULEZ expansion by giving out £50 Oyster cards and other discounts, but that’s not going to help cleaning staff needing to travel to and from work when public transport isn’t running, or those who have to carry cleaning equipment – and again it’s money that should be spent on local services, but won’t be.