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Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite backs London council 'rebellion' over ULEZ camera installation

Plans by "rebel" councils to block the installation of new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) cameras have been backed across the Kent border.

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite has voiced his support for the action amid a backlash against controversial plans by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to expand the ULEZ scheme to greater London from August.

ULEZ is set to expand to all London Boroughs in August. Photo: PA
ULEZ is set to expand to all London Boroughs in August. Photo: PA

The change would see drivers pay a £12.50 charge for using old and high-polluting vehicles in all London boroughs, including the border between Dartford and Bexley.

Various councils affected by the expansion – both sides of the London/Kent border – have spoken out against the move, raising concerns over its impact on key workers and people on lower incomes.

So far only Tory-led Harrow council and Lib Dem-led Sutton council have formally declared their refusal to instal ANPR cameras as part of the scheme.

They both fear it will negatively impact small business owners and key workers in the area and that costs should not be "shouldered by people already struggling to get by in a difficult time".

And although there are no cameras earmarked for land in Dartford specifically, its council leader has voiced his support to those opposing the ULEZ expansion.

Cllr Jeremy Kite supported their stance, saying: "They aren't putting cameras in Dartford, so we can't block the installation of them as that's something that can only be done on the London side.

Dartford Council Leader Jeremy Kite. Picture: Sean Delaney
Dartford Council Leader Jeremy Kite. Picture: Sean Delaney

"But I know other councils are blocking it and getting in the way of the infrastructure and we think that's absolutely the right thing to do.

"Dartford will campaign as hard as we can against the expansion. The consultation was flawed, as we've seen in the news.

"Our opposition to it is total. It's a terribly, terribly, unfair thing. They might say it only affects a small proportion of drivers but they are the ones least able to afford it."

Transport for London (TfL) has since revealed it does not need permission to install the majority of CCTV cameras in the capital’s outer boroughs, according to reports in the Daily Telegraph.

It means that despite the threat from several councils to block the cameras from being used within their boroughs, the mayor can push ahead with the controversial plans.

The previous expansion in October hit around 80,000 Kent motorists with an £80 fine after driving into the new Ultra Low Emission Zones.

Medway motorists faced the brunt of the fines, amassing a total of 16,689, followed closely by Dartford with more than 10,000.

Dartford Conservatives launched petition against what they labelled as the mayor's "Dartford Car Tax".

It has amassed more than 29,000 signatures, with Cllr Kite describing it as "by far the biggest petition against the expansion", adding: "usually when we make petitions they get 300 or 400 signatures."

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

Gravesham council leader John Burden (Lab) has also outlined his objections and said he was "not a fan" of the expansion and would be against seeing anything similar being introduced locally.

The mayor has also faced backlash as Conservatives accused City Hall officials of trying to "manipulate" the results of the ULEZ expansion consultation.

The Tories allege extra advertising and polling were paid for to boost support for the scheme, and thousands of responses from campaigners against the scheme were excluded.

A spokesman for the mayor said suggestions that Transport for London (TfL) or the mayor had influenced the results of the consultation were "simply untrue".

They added: "The real scandal is that toxic air leads to the death of thousands of Londoners every year, which is why the Mayor took the difficult decision to expand the ULEZ London-wide."

From August 29 this year, the ULEZ will be expanded to create one single zone across all London boroughs.

More than four out of five vehicles already meet the emissions standards. But, if you drive a petrol vehicle over 16 years old or a diesel vehicle over six years old you need to check if you’re affected.

The easiest way to check is to use TfL’s vehicle checker.

Mr Khan has described the impact of ULEZ so far as “transformational” and claimed extending it will mean “five million more people will be able to breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives”.

The mayor insisted that the rising cost of living was a “key consideration” in his decision on whether to implement the proposal.

Mr Khan added: “Expanding the ULEZ London-wide has not been an easy decision.

“The easy thing for me would have been to kick the can down the road. But in the end, public health comes before political expediency.”

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