Sadiq Khan grilled on popularity of ULEZ scheme
Sadiq Khan has been slammed for his plans to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London, after it emerged that he will face a High Court challenge over the plans. It is understood a judge accepted a request from five Tory councils – Harrow, Hillingdon, Bromley, Bexley and Surrey county council – for a judicial review of the mayor’s plans. The hearing, taking place in July, will effectively decide whether Mr Khan acted legally or illegally in giving the go-ahead for the scheme’s expansion. The £12.50 ULEZ charge applies to vehicles that do not meet up-to-date emissions standards and currently covers inner London.
Howard Cox from FairFuel accused the Mayor of “cash-grabbing”, saying that the plans are “not only contemptible but now maybe seen to be unlawful”.
He called for an independent public enquiry into what he dubbed “immoral behaviour”.
Mr Cox claimed Mr Khan made “false and dishonest” statements to the London Assembly and “manipulated ULEZ results.”
Many drivers are worried about the expansion given it’s taking place in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.
There are also concerns that the new charges could have a negative impact on local businesses, as fewer people will want to take car trips.
Reacting to the news of the High Court intervention, Howard Cox from Fair Fuel claimed: “He [Sadiq Khan] deceitfully and consciously excluded 5000 supporters of FairFuelUK, and their legitimate responses to the ULEZ consultation because they objected to his unsubstantiated expansion plans.
“He continues to distort health fatality statistics to manipulate emotions, simply to bias opinion.
peaking about the London Mayor, Mr Cox
“London’s Mayor is incapable of anything else, but self-centred politics.
“With 1 in 3 sole traders and 1 in 4 visitors telling FairFuelUK they will never drive into the city ever again, Mayor Khan must cancel this vainglorious scheme for good, so that London is not economically damaged any further and before he loses all credibility in the courtroom.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Ian Edwards, the Leader of Hillingdon Council, described the plans as “disastrous”.
He said: “We were confident that the coalition had put together a robust case against expansion and this is backed up by the courts agreeing to have our challenge heard.
“We listened to our residents and businesses who have expressed significant concerns over the social and economic impact of ULEZ expansion and could not stand aside and allow it to be rolled out without challenge.
“We remain confident that the court will see that the Mayor failed to follow due process, that his proposed scrappage scheme is inadequate, the irreparable harm ULEZ expansion would have on outer London and its neighbours, and that it will rightfully quash these disastrous plans.”
Reacting to the news of the High Court intervention, City Hall Conservatives transport spokesperson Nick Rogers said: “The High Court has now ruled there is sufficient evidence that Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ decision may have been unlawful.
“The Mayor clearly does not have the legal grounds to proceed with his ULEZ tax plans, which take money from charities, small businesses and low-income Londoners who cannot afford a new car.
“Sadiq Khan should do the right thing, immediately stop work on his ULEZ expansion, and explain his actions to the court.”
Cllr Baroness O’Neill of Bexley OBE, Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, claimed the scheme was “never about air quality”, instead claiming it was a “money-making scheme”.
She said: “The residents of Bexley gave us a clear mandate to oppose Mayor Khan’s proposal to expand the ULEZ.
“It was never about air quality and we believe it would have disastrous consequences for many of our residents and businesses, as well as others who regularly travel into the borough.
“We hope that today’s decision moves us a step closer to stopping the Mayor’s money-making scheme.”
But a spokesperson for the Mayor described the legal battle as “costly and misguided”.
The official said: “The Mayor is pleased to see the court has refused permission for the majority of the grounds. We will continue to robustly defend his life-saving decision to expand the ULEZ and continue with preparations without delay.
“It is a shame that some local authorities have chosen to attempt this costly and misguided legal challenge instead of focusing on the health of those they represent.
“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely every year due to air pollution.
“This is a health emergency and the Mayor is not prepared to stand by and do nothing while Londoners are growing up with stunted lungs and are more at risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia due to our toxic air.”
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