Orpington says no to ULEZ expansion
Today I joined constituents in Orpington town centre to demonstrate against Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) across Greater London.
Speaking to constituents who attended, it was clear how much damage the Mayor’s plan would have on families and businesses in Orpington. We don’t enjoy the same public transport options as central London, so many people rely on their cars to get about, go to work, or the shops.
Imposing the £12.50 ULEZ charge and £180 fine for failing to pay from August this year comes at the worst possible time because of the energy crisis and inflation caused by Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and post-pandemic economic turbulence.
ULEZ will not only hammer those who can’t afford a new car but deter people travelling in from Kent to work and shop in Orpington. This will hurt our local businesses and public services as many of the NHS staff, teachers, police officers and firefighters working in our community live outside London and travel by car.
While the tax will add to the cost of living pressures facing families and businesses, an independent report commissioned by Transport for London revealed ULEZ would do little to nothing to improve air quality. The London Borough of Bromley has the second cleanest air in Greater London. This isn’t about air quality but raising money for Sadiq Khan’s administration.
With the demonstration’s impressive display of classic cars and tractors, GB News and BBC News reported on the protest. I was pleased to speak to both about why ULEZ expansion isn’t about air quality but a tax grab.
There were also concerns from classic car owners and Orpington’s small farming community about whether their vehicles are ULEZ compliant.
Sadly, Transport for London isn’t clear about what vehicles are exempted from ULEZ. It appears some classic owners can apply for a historic vehicle tax class to attain an exemption from ULEZ if they were built more than 40 years ago. However, this means the charge would hit some relatively newer classic cars.
More troublingly, it’s unclear what ULEZ expansion means for Orpington’s farming community, many of whom told me today that their vehicles are non-compliant and liable to pay the charge unless they pay enormous bills to replace their farming vehicles.
Again, TfL isn’t clear, but it seems some specialist agricultural vehicles are exempt, but perhaps not all farming vehicles, especially regular cars or vans owned by farming businesses. I will be writing to TfL to seek clarity for our farmers.
As your Member of Parliament, I will continue to speak up against ULEZ expansion on behalf of constituents, making it clear: Orpington says no.