Redbridge residents could be charged £12.50 a day to drive to school and work in the borough

Redbridge Conservatives said the plans will target the poorest residents. Picture: Ken Mears

Redbridge Conservatives said the plans will target the poorest residents. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Residents could be charged £12.50 a day to drive in Redbridge.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which will come into effect in the current central London Congestion Charge Zone on April 8, 2019, and will replace the current Toxicity Charge.

Vehicles will need to meet new, tighter exhaust emission standards or pay a daily charge of £12.50 for cars, vans and motorcycles and £100 for buses, coaches and lorries.

In 2021 the charged area is planned to expand to parts of Redbridge – predominantly in western parts of the borough such as Wanstead and Woodford – and drivers using the A406 will be expected to pay.

Councillor Paul Canal said the ULEZ plan is “flawed” and it is vital that all Redbridge residents are given an “100per cent discount”.

“Redbridge residents should not have to pay to drive in their own borough,” he told the Recorder.

“All the ULEZ does is force polluting vehicles to drive through Redbridge and it will increase traffic and congestion and it won’t even lower pollution.

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“It will cost £3billion and the problem will solve itself with better legislation as cars are getting more efficient - they are much better than they were in the 50s.”

Cllr Canal also explained that the most vulnerable and those on the lowest income will be affected the policy.

“This is another Labour tax on the poor and vulnerable - it will hit the elderly who often have older vehicles,” he added.

“It won’t address pollution problems and provide a solution.”

Redbridge Conservative group leader, Councillor Linda Huggett, has put forward a motion on the matter to be discussed at the next Redbridge Council meeting on Thursday, January 17.

She said the Aether UK air quality report shows that pollution levels have improved since 2008, and if ULEZ is implemented and then expanded to Redbridge, areas close to the A406 will deteriorate.

“The proposed daily charge of £12.50 per day will adversely affect people travelling to Whipps Cross Hospital from outside the A406 and everyone driving in the zone unless they have an exempt vehicle,” she said.

“The proposed daily charge of £12.50 per day will also have an adverse financial effect on families who have to drive to school in cars which are not exempt and driving a car within the zone.

“That older people and those on low incomes, like cleaners and carers, who rely on their vehicle for work will lose £62.50 every week unless they have an exempt vehicle.”

Cllr Huggett said she will ask the chief executive to write to the Mayor of London to reconsider his plans to impose this new tax on older and poorer people in Redbridge who rely on their vehicles for work or to access vital local services including healthcare and education.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said research comissioned by City Hall shows the poorest people in the capital will benefit under the plans.

“London’s toxic air is a public health emergency and the introduction of ULEZ is exactly the sort of bold action that is required to deal with it,” he said

“Improving London’s air quality is a social justice issue as well as a public health matter, given it is certain communities which are affected by filthy air the most.

“Today’s report shows that some of the poorest Londoners will benefit the most from the bold measures we are taking to tackle London’s filthy air.

“By taking tough action, we can ensure that within six years the most deprived schools will be no more likely to have higher exposure to NO2 pollution than the least deprived schools. It cannot be right that your background and where you live determines the quality of the air you breathe and that is exactly why measures like the ULEZ are so vital.”

The mayor said he is encouraging residents who drive in central London to check whether their vehicle complies with the new emissions standards ahead of April.

“A predicted 45per cent fall in harmful emissions within the zone should be a great start to improving the lives of millions of Londoners,” he said.

Alex Williams, director of city planning at Transport for London said the ULEZ will bring huge benefits to the health of all Londoners including drivers.

“With three months until ULEZ starts, we are reminding all drivers in London to take action and check their vehicles’ compliance through our website.

“Londoners can choose a wide range of affordable and sustainable public transport options, including buses fitted with the cleanest engines, cycling and walking.

“Alternatively, a ULEZ compliant vehicle can be purchased from around £500.”

Sonia Farrey, director of advocacy at Unicef UK added: “Breathing polluted air can have serious and long-lasting effects on a child’s health and development.

“It is all of our responsibility to ensure that children can grow up in a clean and safe environment.

“With more than 800 schools, nurseries and educational institutions across London situated in areas with dangerous levels of air pollution, the Ultra Low Emission Zone presents a real opportunity to help protect children from this threat to their health.