Part-time Perry is fiddling over ULEZ while Croydon burns

In the middle of the hottest and driest summer on record, Jason Perry, Chris Philp and south London Tories are opposing measures to address the climate crisis. By our environment correspondent, PAUL LUSHION

Pollution central: the Croydon Mayor is opposing measures to reduce vehicle use in London

Jason Perry, Croydon’s part-time Mayor, has made his position very clear: even in the middle of a summer of record temperatures where parts of his borough have burned, he is putting his petty political party interests first ahead of the global climate crisis.

Tories across London have decided to oppose the proposed extension of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone – the ULEZ – not because of the dangers posed by global warming and the need to drastically cut emissions from road traffic, but simply because the proposal has been made by Sadiq Khan, London’s Labour Mayor.

In doing so, some of London’s Tory politicians, including Perry, Croydon MP Chris Philp and Assembly Member Neil “Father Jack” Garratt, have jumped on the populist bandwagon to oppose the tough measures presented by ULEZ expansion – and have positioned themselves against the policy position of their own Conservative ministers.

The Conservatives, especially Croydon Tories, have a rotten track record on the environment.

£12.50 per day: or the lives of thousands of Londoners who might be affected by toxic air pollution

Boris Johnson (remember him?) made it one of his first acts when he became Mayor of London to roll-back the Congestion Charge extension area implemented in west London, just to save his wealthy chums in Kensington a few bob while they drove around the streets of the capital in their gas-guzzling sports cars and Chelsea tractors.

And Perry was a senior member of the Croydon Conservative group who in 2010 deliberately misled the borough’s voters by issuing election leaflets promising “no incinerator in Croydon”, when they knew very well the plans – which they’d helped to draft – were to build the toxic pollution-spewing Viridor plant at Beddington, just the other side of the borough boundary.

Tory lies: it was Perry and Croydon Conservatives who misled the electorate in 2010 over the polluting incinerator

And once elected, Perry and his Tory mates – who all receive free car parking and exepenses on their travel costs for council business – voted through the scheme to save their Town Hall budgets some cash at the expense of the much-reduced quality of the air breathed by countless Croydon children for decades to come.

As a result of Perry and the Tories’ scheming, Croydon is paying Viridor £10million per year, every year, over the course of a 25-year contract to operate the polluting incinerator a short tram ride away at Beddington Lane.

And now, confronted with the climate crisis, Perry is hiding behind his stock-in-trade response, saying he is “listening” and that, “I have heard Croydon residents’ concerns about the proposed ULEZ expansion”.

Perry says this while presumably while cocking a deaf ‘un to all the serious and well-founded concerns raised about the planet’s climate emergency, which appears to be worsening at an accelerating pace while politicians dither over taking the necessary and tough decision to reduce emissions.

For Perry, Philp and Garratt are ignoring the concerns of respected scientists, and the statistics. Transport for London say that 4,000 Londoners died prematurely in 2019 because of the capital’s dirty air.

A public consultation ends today on whether to extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone to all but the very extremities of Outer London.

London-wide traffic reduction: how the Mayor of London’s ULEZ extension is proposed to cover most of the GLA area from 2023, following the introduction of the C-Charge zone and creation of the ULEZ area bounded by the South and North Circular roads in 2021

The Tories, who have been in power nationally for 12 years, are presiding over the worst cost of living crisis for generations. Their policies having caused huge deprivation and real poverty for millions, Perry, Philp and Garratt are now opposing ULEZ because it would increase vehicle costs… even though 45per cent of households in London do not own a vehicle.

If the proposals to extend ULEZ go through and are implemented from August 29 next year, then only the drivers of vehicles that meet certain minimum emission requirements will be permitted to use the roads across the capital without any charge. Owners of non-compliant, usually older, petrol-fuelled vehicles, will face a £12.50 daily charge to go out on the roads.

Hard facts: some of the statistics that accompany the ULEZ consultation

Perry calls this charge “extortionate” and wants the whole idea axed.

Of course, the consultation is the usual contrived structure you see from public bodies, where questions are skewed to get the answers the policy-makers need to justify their action. For instance, who would say that they don’t mind at all from dying a slow death from the effect of breathing polluting car fumes?

The reality is that the ULEZ extension is going to happen. Labour and the Conservatives want it to happen.

Mayor Khan wants the extension because “doing nothing is not an option for me”.

Khan says if the Tory government had its way, the congestion charge would have been extended across London with all paying to drive. However, in his consultation, Khan is himself pushing comprehensive road charging for every driver at some stage in the future.

Since the collapse of TfL revenues during the covid lockdown of 2020, Tory Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has made the bailout of Transport for London conditional on a number of conditions, including ” “the immediate reintroduction of the London Congestion Charge, LEZ and ULEZ and urgently bring forward proposals to widen the scope and levels of these charges, in accordance with the relevant legal powers and decision-making processes”.

But for Tory political pygmies in Croydon and Sutton, it’s about passing the blame and pretending the policy has nothing to do with them. Bottom line, it’s about deceit.

Perry and Philp: Croydon Tories’ new comedy double act. Both oppose measures intended to slow global warming and improve Croydon’s toxic air

Garratt is the Sutton councillor with an unusual approach to enquiries from the people he is supposed to represent who was last year elected as the London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton. Garratt has been beside himself since posing a question to the London Mayor which saw Khan saying that the decision to implement the scheme is his.

Garratt, who used to work in IT but is not known for any qualifications in climate science, says that the gain is not worth the pain and says even the Mayor’s own reports don’t see much gain to health.

“The Mayor’s own reports show that expanding the ULEZ to the whole of London will reduce NO2 levels by just 1.5 per cent, and make little to no difference to particulate pollution or carbon emissions,” said Garratt.

“But it will cause great hardship, social isolation, and damage business across outer London, hitting hardest those least able to afford it.” Which given the 45per cent of Londoners who are non-car owners, seems to be a claim that is hard to reconcile with the facts.

Part-time Mayor Perry has written to Mayor Khan wanting his own government minister’s requirement for the ULEZ extension dropped.

Perry’s plea: the £81,000 per year Mayor quickly used his new position to lobby Sadiq Khan on behalf of the whole of Croydon. Perry was elected by just 13% of the electorate

Perry, the director of a local business who receives £81,894 in Mayoral salary, is himself wealthy enough that he can afford an electric car.

“After years of covid and now facing cost of living rises, many households with older cars won’t be able to afford the significant cost of buying a new more modern car.”

Perry writes that he “knows the benefits of encouraging the take-up of more sustainable vehicles” and that ” I agree that we must take steps to improve London’s air quality, however that should not come at the cost of hitting families and businesses already struggling to make ends meet”. That would be the families and businesses already struggling to make ends meet because of the Conservative-created cost of living crisis… 

Perry worries about the impact on local businesses. Surrey shoppers, if their cars don’t pass muster, will likely avoid driving to Coulsdon, Purley or Croydon once placed inside the ULEZ. Putting the interests of business owners – like himself – ahead of the demands to deal with the global climate emergency, Perry wrote, “There is little doubt [ULEZ] will also hit local businesses as customers chose to stay home rather than face paying the £12.50 ULEZ charge for a trip to the shops”.

Smoky Croydon: the borough has witnessed several grass fires break out in tinder-dry playing fields and woods in the last few weeks – all linked to our changing climate

Since he sent his letter to Khan a month ago, Perry’s only response to questions of what he is going to do about Croydon’s air pollution and traffic issues is to talk vaguely of “incentivising greener cars”. For Perry, this is just about petty political party games, of pandering to his audience.

It is basically Mayor Perry fiddling over ULEZ while Croydon burns.

No wonder the politicians of national standing want the policy introduced London-wide.

But such politicking has left outer Londoners with a choice between 4,000 premature deaths a year and seeing the borough burn in future extremes of weather caused by climate change, or seeing those who depend on their old vehicles for work facing £12.50 daily charges.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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14 Responses to Part-time Perry is fiddling over ULEZ while Croydon burns

  1. Perry can’t or won’t think outside the box he’s trapped himself in.

    Judging from the size of him and the tripe he dispenses, he drives everywhere and anywhere, and wouldn’t be seen dead on public transport, let alone on foot or a scooter or a bike.

    He thinks that everyone else is like him, and can’t or won’t change their habits.

    His call on City Hall to take action is a classic “somebody ought to do something” while he does nothing, either as a part-time Mayor (who can spare the time to go on BBC radio) or a member of the Conservative party (who happen to have been in government for the last 12 years).

    He’s evidently indifferent to the climate crisis, and his words on his website ring hollow 4 months after they were published:

    “I confirm my commitment to improving our local air quality in this climate emergency, because it is of national and local importance to take the urgent actions necessary to improve our environment in Croydon. This means tackling air pollution, as well as moving towards ending our reliance on non-renewable energy sources.”

    Truly he is fiddling while Croydon burns and chokes.

    • Chris Flynn says:

      I’d be interested to hear what Mayor Perry believes what urgent actions are necessary to tackle air pollution in Croydon. If it’s about being pro-car, and ending our reliance on non-renewable energy sources, how about funding a trade-in scheme for vehicles which are considered ‘old’ under ULEZ, to help residents of Croydon get an electrc vehicle instead? It’s that’s not viable, what is Mayor Perry’s statement actually suggesting, or is it just empty words?

  2. Martin Rosen says:

    I’d find the Mayor of London’s position more credible if he stated that he would use ALL of the £12.50s which he collects from people driving older, more polluting cars to fund climate-change defences in London … such as planting trees, building new green spaces and less flats, etc.

    As it is, he confirms his reputation as a Mayor who has lost fiscal control of his fiefdom, and who desperately needs to raise money to hide London’s shortfall in income.

  3. Annabel Smith says:

    Perry is a two faced bottom feeder. My local forest was ablaze only two weeks ago and people are still concerned only about the cost of running their cars. Having a car is a luxury, same as having your heating on at 25 degrees in the spring, and the cost is likely to keep rising so you had better get used to it and start minding the headlines about climate change – soon it’ll be your back yard that’s on fire.

    • Martin Rosen says:

      Annabel, I sympathise with you but …. having a car is NOT a luxury to people who are disabled, or who don’t live near a bus route, or who have to go to and from their workplace at unusual hours, or who need to take children to and from school, or who need to carry heavy loads, or …. oh so many reasons for NEEDING a car.

      • We have reached a point where doing nothing is not an option.

        Breathing clean air is not a luxury, but it is something denied to millions of Londoners.

        The future of the planet is at stake, and to try to reverse some of the damage that we have done, we will all need to make sacrifices and adjust the way we lead our lives.

      • Funny how selfish Tories pretend to care about “the disabled” and bus services and school kids if they think they’ll have to get off their fat arses and walk for 5 minutes but don’t give a toss when people with disabilities are suffering from government-imposed poverty, bus services are being decimated thanks to Tory cuts (and not just in London) and our state education is so bad, it takes a footballer to make sure school kids are well-fed.

        And that’s before you consider the impact that all these cars and vans are having on our air quality, global warming and road safety (iC passim)

      • Alan says:

        There are exemptions to the ULEZ for disabled people. Plus, of course, the ULEZ only applies to the worst polluting cars.

        I take your point, though, many people are locked into car ownership, or at least feel that they are locked in. So you end up paying for the car, the fuel, the insurance, maintenance, excise duty etc. The mayor could be taking action that would limit our dependence on cars, give you other options. Instead he’s decided to quibble about a charge that would only affect a few. He’s really let you down.

  4. Susan Stein says:

    For Ulez to work you need an integrated public transport strategy in place – this does not exist in Croydon. Croydon is a commuter town – to say it’s a populist position to oppose the extension of Ulez is completely missing the point.

    London suffers from a North-East-West-centric transport policy that has never been able to get a handle on the South’s needs. I applaud the Croydon Mayor’s stance to push back on the fiidgiting GLA Mayors non-policy for South London.

    Perry mirrors my view on this. Khan is the visionary Mayor with prescription bifocals…….

    • Susan, if you wander round Croydon, look out for those big red things on wheels. They’re called buses. Then the long green things, they’re trams. And those things that go very fast and don’t make much noise, they’re trains. If you think Sadiq Khan has prescription bifocals but can’t spot integrated public transport in this borough, you ought to go to Specsavers

  5. dmashala says:

    Our car, which is a quite large family car, is not big enough to be charged under the scheme. So if 45% of households don’t own a vehicle, and only very large cars would be hit with the charge, then only a few households would be affected. If that means fewer gas guzzlers running to the shops all well and good

  6. Lewis White says:

    I would like to see a simple chart for every car make and model, for cars between 0 and 12 years old, that showed how much pollution (not just the much-publicised CO2 emissions, but the more immediately bad things – other gasses, exhaust and tyre particulates and – something I have never seen mentioned anywhere – the heat chucked off by engines and exhaust pipes.

    My guess is that the currently fashionable suburban vehicle of choice – a 4-wheel drive SUV – would be much more polluting than a 10 year old small car.

    Are the less well-off or older people with smaller and older cars going to get priced off the road, but drivers of newer gas guzzlers left untouched ? That cannot be fair.

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