Fantasy Politics – Real Health Issues

Harrow Council together with several other Tory Councils have lost their legal challenge against the expansion of the ULEZ to outer London.

That will cost at least £400,000, and maybe more, which could have been used to benefit the people of Harrow. Leader of the Council, Paul Osborn, can now only quixotically ask for the power for Harrow to implement or not implement ULEZ, an idea which if ever adopted in 32 boroughs would cause absolute chaos.

The way ULEZ is being introduced is wrong. More scrappage compensation, lower initial charge and/or a longer lead-in time might well make the scheme more palatable. And if the Council and others had talked to Mayor Khan perhaps a sensible compromise could have been reached at little cost.

It should be remembered that the Tories introduced ULEZ in the first place and in 2020 required Mayor Khan to go ahead with its expansion as part of the TFL financial settlement. They have played politics with this issue and green issues more generally, while the Mediterranean burns. They are putting in jeopardy the measures we have that will improve health and mitigate the impact of climate change. It might be good short-term politics in Uxbridge, but it is not responsible government, nor is Councillor Susan Hall’s pledge to scrap ULEZ if elected as Mayor of London.

A comprehensive and responsible approach is needed, centrally co-ordinated, to reduce harmful emissions. ULEZ in Harrow will create rat-runs by drivers of non-compliant cars to avoid charges – cameras cannot be everywhere. And if it goes ahead as currently formulated, it will harm some poor people who depend on their cars because of the limited public transport compared with inner London.

There is still time for a grown-up approach.

Derek Hill

Chair, Harrow LibDems