Peter Fortune has been the London Assembly Member for Bexley & Bromley since May 2021. He is a former Councillor in the Beckenham Constituency was Deputy Leader of Bromley Council. Peter is Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group at City Hall. Below he outlines his position on the proposed extension of the ULEZ to include Outer London.
I know many of you are concerned about Sadiq Khan’s plan to expand the ULEZ to cover virtually the whole of London from 23rd August next year. I share your concerns, and am worried that the Mayor has little or no interest in using the consultation to have an open and honest conversation with Londoners. The fear is that the Mayor will simply use this consultation as a tick-box exercise, ignoring residents views, and bringing in ULEZ expansion across the whole of Bexley and Bromley no matter the result.
Expanding the ULEZ would be immensely damaging and hugely unfair to the residents of outer London. When the cost of living is such a major issue it’s almost unbelievable that the Mayor is trying to force through a ULEZ expansion that aims to take millions of pounds from those Londoners who need to drive. It is especially concerning for those who residents, charities or small businesses, who will struggle to afford to replace their vehicles.
Furthermore, the Mayor has given no details or promises to offer a scrappage scheme that would be fit for purpose. When he chose to expand the ULEZ to the North and South Circulars, my Conservative colleagues and I urged him to fund a much more generous scrappage scheme and showed him where he should find the money. He repeatedly refused to even consider our proposal.
I recently questioned the Mayor about how he would protect the poorest Londoners which you can view here: The Mayor dodges Peter Fortune AM's question regarding financial impact of a further ULEZ expansion. - YouTube
A ULEZ in central London, where air quality is at its worst and public transport options are at their best, made sense. However, given the significantly higher levels of car ownership in outer London and much lower public transport connectivity, there is no case for an outer London ULEZ. Even if there were, the Mayor has no mandate to for such an expansion. It is worth noting that there was no mention of his doing so in his 2021 manifesto.
In addition, much as the Mayor will try to claim that ULEZ expansion is necessary or desirable because it will improve outer London air quality, any real difference it might make is not clear. It will, however, allow the Mayor to ignore the many suggestions which would lead to a genuine improvement in air quality. His calculation may be that Londoners, who dislike the idea of expanding the ULEZ, will accept it if they can be made to believe that it is the best way to improve London’s air. My colleagues and I will be working hard to make clear that this is not the case and that there are many policies, such as making London’s buses zero emission well before the Mayor’s target date of 2034 and rapidly increasing vehicle charging points across London, that would have far more of a positive impact without forcing poorer Londoners off the road.
Given all this, the GLA Conservatives intend to do all we can to ensure Londoners are fully aware of Sadiq Khan’s intentions. Whilst the Mayor can ignore the consultation results, it is both harder and more embarrassing for him to do so if there is a strong majority opposed to his plans.
If you would like to respond to the consultation and or forward it to anyone you know who might also do so then the link is here: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/cleanair?tool=survey_tool