Home COLUMNS ULEZ: Is it Sadiq Khan’s Poll Tax?

ULEZ: Is it Sadiq Khan’s Poll Tax?

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Surely ULEZ will impact huge numbers of people. More than 3.5 million people live inside the ULEZ zone and many more pass through it on a daily basis. The zone boundary dissects a dozen London boroughs and residents will suddenly find short trips to, for example, do the weekly shopping, take their child to school or to attend a hospital appointment costing them an additional £12.50 per trip….writes Kanwal Toor

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Mayor Sadiq Khan during the We Are All Londoners campaign

The Ultra Low Emission Zone tax was rolled out amidst resentment and dismay. Many, like me, included feel this form of taxing people is regressive and self-harming to London’s struggling economy.

The Government lead by Conservatives party has played a key role in making United Kingdom a powerful stakeholder in controlling climate change. In the last few years alone the Conservative Government has introduced:

1.Tackling the scourge of plastics by consulting on the introduction of a deposit-return scheme, calling evidence on single-use plastics, legislating to ban microbeads, requiring ring large retailers to charge 5p for single-use plastic carrier bags and doubling maximum litter fines to £150.

  1. Cleaner air for the next generation by Improving air quality in some of the most polluted areas, calling evidence on cutting harmful emissions caused by the burning of fuels, consulting on a range of issues including encouraging people to switch from house coal and new powers for local authorities, restricting air pollution from combustion plants, introducing a one-off tax on diesel cars.
  2. Using Renewable Energy – Today we are using more energy from renewables more than we have in the last 25 years.

However, the Government has been forward thinking when it comes to tackling issues related to climate change. On the other hand, the London Mayor’s poorly planned, callous approach is questionable and regressive.

As a parent, a citizen I understand we need a robust approach when dealing with the ticking time bomb of climate change. But rolling out ULEZ eighteen months before scheduled in a regressive, almost dictatorial manner isn’t the answer.

BRITAIN-LONDON-BIG BEN-FALL SILENT by .
The Big Ben

ULEZ is confounded in practice. Gareth Bacon, leader of the Conservatives in the Greater London Assembly, labelled the ULEZ charges as “Sadiq Khan’s poll tax”!

“The introduction of a daily £12.50 charge simply to use their cars, when they had previously done so without incurring any charge (other than the usual cost of motoring, which is not cheap in the UK) is going to come as a shock to a great many people,” said Gareth.

Like many others I am supportive of the plan proposed by Boris Johnson, but with an implementation date of 2020. And I fervently oppose the 2021 expansion of the ULEZ to cover outer London. Surely ULEZ will impact huge numbers of people. More than 3.5 million people live inside the ULEZ zone and many more pass through it on a daily basis. The zone boundary dissects a dozen London boroughs and residents will suddenly find short trips to, for example, do the weekly shopping, take their child to school or to attend a hospital appointment costing them an additional £12.50 per trip. For those living inside the zone, it will cost them £12.50 every time they turn on their ignition – if they need to drive their car every day, that is the equivalent of an additional tax burden of £4,500 per year. The people hit hardest will be the poorest because many will not be able to afford to upgrade their vehicle.

Meanwhile, one petition on Change.org, which now has more than 25,000 signatures, claims that the ULEZ is a stealth tax and nothing to do with air pollution! Also what steps have Transport for London taken to cope with the already struggling bus, tube & train services? Absolutely nothing!

In addition, Transport for London has refused to grant an exemption to “not-for-profit” minibuses and vans until October 2021. Meaning our charities are being punished for providing services to the vulnerable and needy!

UK Homes 4 Heroes, which runs twice-weekly soup kitchens in Waterloo to facilitate contact with homeless ex-service personnel, has launched a crowdfunding appeal to buy a replacement van. It took its “Hero 4” outreach van, which has a kitchen, out of service on Wednesday night.

 by MADHU PUVULA.
Bapu@150 – Event at Piccadilly Circus in London

Not excepting cash strapped emergency services from ULEZ is yet another example of the short-sightedness by Mayor Sadiq Khan. Early implementation is forcing already burdened emergency services to consider replacing their vehicles earlier than planned or be hit with massive daily charges. Does the fire brigade fear the ULEZ will cost it £250,000 a year?! Where will all this money come from?

ULEZ will handicap small businesses. Although the £12.50 charge may not sound a lot, it amounts to an average annual bill of £5,760 for weekday driving in congestion and ULEZ fees! That is huge for SME’s.

Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced a £23m scrappage scheme in order to offset some of the additional costs the pollution levy would have for small businesses.

The scheme offered business owners up to £6,000 per vehicle in order to replace them with a newer model or electric vehicle in order to comply with ULEZ standards. However, only 100 had applied so far!

Seeing ULEZ will wreak havoc with many lives, Khan must rethink his ULEZ plan before Londoners realise that he is not the man that can be trusted with their lives (literally) or the future. He must amend his mistake, reconsider his London Plan and save us from misery.

(Kanwal Toor is an entrepreneur, governor, and a Trustee).