Tory councils wasted £1m on High Court challenge to ULEZ

Pro-pollution Tory politicians in and around London were dealt a heavy blow as a High Court judge dismissed their challenge against the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone. The politically-inspired legal case is estimated to have cost Council Tax-payers in Bromley, Bexley, Surrey, Harrow and Hillingdon, and across all of London, at least £1million.

Legal victory: London Mayor Sadiq Khan

The zone currently extends as far as the South and North Circulars, but from the end of August it will be expanded to include most of outer London, including Croydon, requiring the owners of the most polluting vehicles to pay to drive, or find other, less-polluting ways to get around.

Croydon’s pro-pollution Mayor, Conservative Jason Perry, said that he had considered joining the group action against ULEZ, but that he could not because of the cash-strapped council’s lack of cash…

That left it to Perry’s fellow Tories in Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon, along with Surrey County Council, to stage the six-month legal case, all paid for out of their residents’ Council Tax.

The Tory councils were given permission to argue three grounds of challenge against the Mayor of London and Transport for London out of five advanced in their original claim. The other two grounds were rejected outright by the High Court.

Their barristers had made the case at the High Court that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had failed to adequately consult, overstepped his powers, and had provided a flawed £110million scrappage scheme.

In his verdict today, Mr Justice Swift found that the legal basis on which Mayor Khan made the decision to expand ULEZ was sound and in line with previous decisions on charging within the capital.

The judge said he was “satisfied that the Mayor’s decision… was within his powers”, and that enough information was given for people who wished to respond to provide “informed responses”.

The consultation on the scrappage scheme was “not in depth”, but was “lawful”, he said.

Mayor Khan immediately confirmed he would expand the zone as planned on August 29, and extend the remit of the scrappage scheme to help more affected Londoners – including all those in receipt of child benefit payments.

Spendthrift: Colin Smith, the leader of Bromley council, wasted thousands of pounds on the ULEZ challenge

According to the World Health Organization, every outer London borough exceeds the safe limit for NO2 and PM2.5 toxic air particles.

Outer London has the greatest number of premature deaths from air pollution. It is also home to more than half of the 500,000 Londoners who live with asthma and are more vulnerable to the impacts of toxic air.

“Delaying by even a year puts thousands more Londoners at risk of having their lives cut short,” Mayor Khan said. “That’s why we can’t afford to wait.”

Responding to the judgement, Mayor Khan described it as a “very significant High Court ruling”.

“The Mayor has always said that the decision to expand the ULEZ London-wide was difficult and not something he takes lightly – and he continues to do everything possible to address concerns Londoners may have,” City Hall said in a statement.

“ULEZ is a highly targeted scheme aimed at taking the most polluting vehicles off the roads. Nine out of ten cars seen driving regularly in outer London on an average day are already ULEZ compliant and will not pay a penny when the zone expands, while still benefiting from cleaner air.”

Source: Mayor of London

Around 4,000 Londoners die each year prematurely due to causes linked to air pollution, with the greatest number of premature deaths in outer London. “Mayoral policies, such as the central London ULEZ, have helped reduce the number of children admitted to hospital with asthma and other respiratory diseases by 30per cent,” City Hall said today.

“This landmark decision is good news as it means we can proceed with cleaning up the air in outer London on August 29,” Mayor Khan said this morning.

Cameras are coming: ULEZ cameras being installed in Coulsdon

“I’ve been listening to Londoners throughout the ULEZ rollout, which is why from next week I am expanding the scrappage scheme to nearly a million families who receive child benefit and all small businesses with up to 50 employees. I will continue to look at new ideas to support Londoners.

“Nine out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London on an average day are already compliant so won’t pay a penny – yet will still see the benefits of cleaner air. Air pollution is an urgent public health crisis – our children are growing up with stunted lungs and it is linked to a host of serious conditions, from heart disease to cancer and dementia.

“This unambiguous decision today in the High Court allows us to press on with the difficult but vital task of cleaning up London’s air and tackling the climate crisis.”

Around 300 new ULEZ cameras are being installed across outer London, in preparation for the zone being extended. TfL expects to spend £60million to £75million on cameras and road signs, and for the total cost of the expansion to be between £130million and £140million.

Driving in the expanded ULEZ zone will cost those without an emissions-compliant vehicle £12.50 per day.

Read more: Time to take a walk and witness the damage we’re all causing
Read more: The Mayor of London’s guide to ULEZ

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11 Responses to Tory councils wasted £1m on High Court challenge to ULEZ

  1. Chris Burgliss says:

    Glad that Perry didn’t throw away any of my money on this judicial review that was obviously going to be chucked out by any judge with a brain cell.

  2. derek thrower says:

    The weakness of the Tory case was evident when it was not launched until the eleventh hour within weeks of and many of its claims did not even reach judicial review.

    Throughout it has had the appearance of political campaigning for the Conservative Party.

    Should Council Tax Payers have to pay for that?

  3. Diana Pinnell says:

    Having spent childhood in Norbury (shopping in Streatham and Brixton) and then South Croydon (shopping in Croydon, Redhill, Crawley) I now identify as a Croydonian rather than a Londoner. Croydon, Surrey as was. I spent adult life in the leafy suburbs, parks and woodlands rather than inhaling fumes from diesel and petrol traffic. Those of us who live at the edge of the ULEZ zone are less welcoming of it. It means friends from just outside won’t be visiting us to eat our side of the ULEZ border, we shall be visiting their side. All the more irritating is the fact that Featherbed Lane is exempt but properties either side of it are included. I am irritated that Croydon and other councillors didn’t argue when the extension of the zone was originally mooted, but never thought to object until Uxbridge was nearly lost to Labour, showing their colours a bit too brightly. My own cars aren’t old enough to be charged, but I guess Purley Way will receive fewer visitors from Surrey and Sussex. So I’m not affected, but I sympathise with those based in Tandridge, Kent, Surrey and Sussex and fully understand why they wouldn’t want to pay £12.50 a day to visit Sutton, Croydon or Bromley, whether for social or business reasons. Next step, presumably, is to extend ULEZ to the M25, so manifestos for the GE will be of particular interest.

  4. Dave Russell says:

    As a life-long non-driver, who still has to breath in the muck that vehicles throw out, I welcome the expansion of the ULEZ. I hope it will be extended out to, and including, the M25. The mistake with the existing ULEZ is that its boundary is the North & South Circular but doesn’t include either. But not for much longer. Hurrah!

  5. Good news. This should help the parking problems in Coulsdon that Creatura bangs on about, and will cut congestion and pollution across the borough.

  6. Ian Bridge says:

    Will any cameras in Croydon work anyway? Bought from a lad on ebay….

    • TfL has generally made sound decisions when spending money on information technology, e.g. Oyster, cycle hire, current ULEZ, etc.

      Croydon council’s track record is one of failure, e.g, the MyCroydon app, the digital bus shelters that will never be built, the healthy street cameras that don’t work

      There used to be a saying in the computer industry “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”. In our Town Hall, it’s “nobody ever gets fired for fucking up.

      Steve Iles is 93

  7. Ian Kierans says:

    I am and always have been in favour of less polluting vehicles. The ULEZ has flaws and most would admit to that. Yet it is still the most effective method at this time.
    Yes there are people (and I am one) who will lose out with this. But I also gain being asthmatic as does the NHS with less emergency hospital visits and less medication needs.

    However those gains will be reversed if the impact of Viridor’s pollution in Croydon increases.

    Diana’s comment is inaccurate, she will be affected – but perhaps for the better.

    Many shops outside the zone might actually see an increase in trade as less travel into the ULEZ zone, but that may not be significant.

    Most traffic on the Purley way is business and commuting or as a main arterial road to access the Motorways. This therefore will have a beneficial impact on the other home counties – again that will be somewhat negated by those who take the long way home to avoid a charge.

    A moderate amount is for the stores on either side even less than that is social and local. There is not a lot that comes from Surrey or the outer areas to Central Croydon anymore.
    The scrappage scheme is fair for those that can avail of it- not so much for others and that is a flaw but it is still a generous scheme.
    So overall I do feel that this will be of benefit to London and have to express amazement at those Politicians who challanged it and felt it was not –

    One has to think of how bunkered and NIMYistic those Councillors and MPs are especially when they have a wealth of evidence. One feels that they are really not representing people but pandering to a few in a game of my shout is loudest and behaving no better than a playground bully.

  8. Nick Davies says:

    Anecdotally, canvassers in Uxbridge reported people with Teslas in the drive complaining about ULEZ. As our transatlantic cousins say, you can’t fix stupid.

  9. Lewis White says:

    I am not convinced by ULEZ, as my guess is that the owners of the targetted old vehicles do far less mileage, and chuck out less pollution than the tens of thousands of 2 exhaust pipe chesea tractors and large pickups beloved of builder types.

    Bring in a form of rationing– relating to mileage done per annum, and emissions of the vehicle. Give a personal milage allowance, and charge heavily per mile after that.

    Every year we get an MOT– and the mileage could be reported back to DVLA, and the charge for mileage made from that.

    It is car commuters to London who are causing much of the daily pollution load.

    More trains more trains, better bus routes, and cheaper bus and train fares are also needed.

  10. Pingback: The London ULEZ and Kent

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