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Bexley and Bromley lose battle against London mayor Sadiq Khan’s plan to expand ULEZ zone

A group of Conservative-led councils, including Bexley and Bromley, have lost their High Court challenge against the Mayor of London’s plans to expand the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ).

The councils launched legal action in February over Sadiq Khan's plans to extend the zone - in which drivers of vehicles that don’t meet emission standards have to pay a £12.50 daily fee - and in April were granted permission to challenge the plan.

The London ULEZ Zone is set to expand.
The London ULEZ Zone is set to expand.

Today the High Court dismissed the challenge, meaning the ULEZ zone will now expand from its current borders of the North and South Circular roads to encompass the outer London boroughs on August 29.

A statement from Bexley Council said the coalition of councils was “hugely disappointed” in the decision, and questioned the “moral right” in the mayor’s actions – given the recent Conservative by-election win in Uxbridge was seen as a referendum on the expansion of ULEZ.

The statement added: “It is evident that the Mayor of London and TfL do not realise the damage the extension will have to the lives of residents and businesses in outer London as well as those outside of its borders.”

Bexley council leader Cllr Baroness O’Neill of Bexley OBE, said: “I’m extremely disappointed at the outcome of the judicial review and the impact it will have on our residents and businesses. They have told us time and time again how worried they were about ULEZ which was why we took this action on their behalf.

“The judge may have said that the Mayor has the legal right to implement the scheme but, as we saw last week, there is also a moral judgment to consider. Even senior supporters of the Mayor have voiced their concerns around the expansion of this scheme.

“The fact that the Mayor of London has got his way and that his ULEZ expansion plan is to go ahead is devastating for the whole of outer London. This is especially true for Bexley because of our lack of transport links.

The Ulez is expanding in August as part of changes ushered in by the London Mayor
The Ulez is expanding in August as part of changes ushered in by the London Mayor

“I’m sure that jobs and businesses will also feel the effect as less out of borough residents will want to come to work or shop in Bexley because of this new charge.

“I know from speaking to carers who have to travel in and out of the borough to visit family members on a regular basis that they will be one of the groups who will suffer most.

“I’d like to thank the coalition members for all the hard work they have put into this battle – I know they are as saddened today as I am. I now call on the Mayor to do the right thing by outer London and delay the implementation.”

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson also said the decision was disappointing

“The Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion may be legal but this does not make it right.

“ULEZ will impact one in seven drivers, financially penalise hard working families, with a £12.50 daily charge.

“This charge has nothing to do with air pollution and everything to do with taxing those who can least afford to pay. If you can pay £12.50 per day then you can drive as much as you like in London.”

He said there was still time for Sadiq Khan and Labour to drop the ULEZ expansion, adding: “Dartford has made it clear, we do not want Labour’s ULEZ. I will continue to challenge this unfair tax.”

Cllr Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council, said: “Today’s decision cannot be disguised as anything other than bitter disappointment for motorists in general, traders who will now have to consider ceasing business and laying off staff, those who will now have to change jobs and, most desperately of all, people who will no longer be able to support vital care networks for vulnerable people across the whole of outer London in particular.

“To all of them as well as the legion of families who will now have to trade in perfectly good cars at significant cost they can’t really afford, for a newer vehicle they don’t want or need, I can only say sorry. We’ve tried our very hardest to protect you but ultimately, today’s judgement does mean that the Mayor has taken another step closer to getting his way.”

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