Let us agree on one thing: We need to clean up London’s dirty air.
Clean air is a perennial problem for London. My grandparents and parents suffered pea soup fogs. I had headaches in the days of leaded petrol. And today my boy and I struggle with asthma. We need strong action to this killer problem, in central London and beyond.
To his credit, Sadiq Khan has adopted Boris Johnson’s plan for a central Ultra Low Emissions Zone (Ulez) and is planning on expanding it to the North and South Circular Roads in 2021. I support the former but have concerns over the latter. Here’s why.
If we’re going to shift people’s behaviour using expensive taxes (and the Ulez is £62.50 a week) there needs to be an alternative for those without the means to get a new vehicle or pay. The central Ulez is relatively fair to poorer Londoners because central London is well served by cheap public transport.
It is also home to the worst pollution. The central Ulez should help thin our horrible traffic, make our buses a more attractive transport option and improve the quality of life where so many of us either live or work.
Zones 1 and 2 also have the necessary enforcement infrastructure in place; cameras already police the congestion charge, so using the same tools to enforce a central Ulez is easy and inexpensive.