Sadiq Khan renews threat to charge workers £33-A-DAY to enter London

EXCLUSIVE: Sadiq Khan renews threat to charge Home Counties workers with £33-A-DAY commuting charge to enter Greater London as senior Tories warn move would ‘erect a barrier around the capital’

  • EXCLUSIVE: Veteran MPs blasted Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s idea for charges
  • They said a huge volume of firemen, police and paramedics live outside the city
  • It meant that they could be slapped with an eye-watering £33-per-day commute
  • Mr Khan’s threat comes as he begs for more taxpayers’ cash from government

Sadiq Khan’s threat of a new charge on vehicles driving into London would ‘erect a barrier around the capital’ and ‘hurt everyone’, senior Tories have warned.

Veteran MPs such as Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa Villiers blasted the Mayor’s idea of an up to £5.50-per-day levy on cars entering the outer boroughs of the capital.

They pointed out the huge volume of firemen, police and paramedics who live outside the city could be slapped with an eye-watering £33-a-day commute.

It would be for those paying the new amount as well as the Congestion Charge and ULEZ – such as a nurse living in Kent but driving to work at St Thomas’s Hospital.

The GLA Conservatives drafted the letter, seen by MailOnline, to Mr Khan as he grapples with the government for yet more money to be pumped into London.

The scheme would take up to two years to bring in, meaning it would not be ready until after London has bounced back from the crisis

Veteran MPs such as Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa Villiers blasted the Mayor’s idea of an up to £5.50-per-day levy on cars entering the outer boroughs of the capital. Mr Khan is pictured last week

Will I be hit by Ulez and how much will it cost me? 

Many more motorists will be liable for a daily charge after London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone was expanded. Here are 12 key questions about the scheme:

– What vehicles are affected?  It depends how much nitrogen dioxide it emits, which is generally linked to its age. For diesel cars, most of those that meet the minimum standard were first registered after September 2015. Compliant petrol cars are typically those registered after 2005.

– How can I check the status of my vehicle?  Transport for London is urging people to use its online checker by visiting www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle. 

– What is the charge for non-compliant vehicles?  The daily fee is £12.50 for cars, motorcycles and vans up to 3.5 tonnes. Heavier vehicles, including lorries, buses and coaches, are charged £100.

– When do charges apply?  All day, every day of the year except on Christmas Day. 

– What is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez)? It is an area in London where drivers of older, more polluting vehicles are charged a daily fee.

– What changed in October?  It previously only covered parts of central London, but it became 18 times larger.

– What are the new boundaries?  The Ulez was extended to include all areas within the North and South Circular roads.

– Who has done this and why?  The change has been implemented by London mayor Sadiq Khan in an attempt to improve air quality in the capital.

– How quickly do I have to pay?  You have until midnight on the third day after the journey.

– How do I do it?  You can pay online through TfL’s website, using the Pay to Drive in London app, or by phone. Drivers also have the option of setting up automatic billing so they are charged monthly.

– What happens if I do not pay?  You could be handed a Penalty Charge Notice for £160, reduced to £80 if paid within a fortnight.

– Where does the money go?  TfL says the cash it receives from the Ulez is reinvested into improving London’s transport network and to improve air quality. It insists ‘we don’t make a profit’ from the scheme.

The note, by 51 Tory politicians, said: ‘Charging drivers to enter the capital flies in the face of your ”London is Open” message and ”Let’s Do London” campaign.

‘It would erect a barrier around Greater London, keeping visitors, customers and workers away, benefiting no-one and hurting everyone.’

The plan would involve drivers with vehicles registered outside the city having to pay once they enter boroughs such as Croydon, Enfield, Hillingdon and Havering.

Enforcing the changes and any infrastructure is under review, but camera coverage is already in place on the Greater London Boundary for the Low Emission Zone.

The politicians said the proposed charge would see pay slashed by up to £1,000 a year for those regularly heading into the city.

They said it would also split communities from their nearest town centre, school or hospital and impact police officers and firefighters.

And some commuters would have to pay staggering charges of up to £33-per-day due to the new levy, Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone.

The letter continued: ‘For Outer London, a boundary charge would penalise people visiting family and friends.

‘It would hurt local businesses and high streets which rely on customers and visitors from outside the capital.

‘It would also deter people living outside the boundary from working in Greater London, undermining our businesses and public services.’

The document, organised by AM for Bexley and Bromley Peter Fortune, added: ‘Over half of London’s police officers and firefighters live outside the capital.

‘According to a London NHS Trust, one-fifth of its staff, doctors and nurses could be hit by the charge.

‘A survey of schools in the London Borough of Bromley also revealed that many teachers live outside the capital.

‘One school said that 40 per cent of its employees could be hit by the charge, warning that it would struggle to retain and recruit teaching staff.’

Mr Khan has threatened the Greater London Boundary Charge throughout the pandemic as a way to raise cash to bail out City Hall.

Last year he suggested a scheme like it to reduce the number of journeys by up to 15 per cent and raise £500million a year.

The Labour Mayor said at the time: ‘Ministers have failed to play fair by Londoners when it comes to financing our world-renowned transport system.

‘It is high time they did so. Londoners pay £500m worth of Vehicle Excise Duty every year, which is then spent on maintaining roads outside the capital.

‘It is not fair on London that our drivers should subsidise the rest of the country’s roads and get nothing in return.’

The vehicle excise duty is currently taken from drivers who live in London but spent mostly outside the capital.

Public transport into and around the city was desolate for months due to most businesses letting their staff work from home to avoid spreading the virus.

Officials have been looking into whether a new Greater London Boundary Charge could work for non-Londoners, with the cash being pumped back into city services.

But the scheme would take up to two years to bring in, meaning it would not be ready until after London has bounced back from the crisis.

 Up to 1.3million vehicles travel into London each week, with one million into the outer boroughs.

They could face huge charges getting into and driving around the city, with an expanded ULEZ and Congestion Charge zone already in place.

£12.50 ULEZ zone: The ULEZ covered the red area of central London from Westminster to the City of London. But it expanded up to, but not including, the North and South Circular Road (shown in yellow), on October 25

£15 Congestion Charge zone: This map shows the area of the congestion charge which drivers of non-electric vehicles pay to enter Central London from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week. The ULEZ is charged on top of the Congestion Charge 

Will you face a vehicle emissions tax where you live? Pollution zones are being rolled out across the country in the next 12 months, meaning many owners of older cars will either have to buy a new one or face hefty charges

What are the fees and charging times for London drivers?

  • £15 Congestion Charge: 7am to 10pm, seven days of the week, every day of the year, except December 25. Will apply to all non-electric vehicles from October 25. 
  • £12.50 Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ): Operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, except December 25. Applies to all petrol cars made before 2006 and diesel cars made before 2015.  
  • £100 Low Emission Zone (LEZ): Operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Applies to vans and trucks that do not meet ‘Euro 3 standard. Most vans and trucks made after 2001 meet the standard .

In October Londoners blasted Mr Khan’s ULEZ expansion because they say it has left them facing an extra five mile trip to avoid being ‘taxed to recycle’.

Residents in leafy Richmond say their local waste centre has been sucked into the ultra-low emission zone following its expansion on Monday.

It means residents living in the town and driving older vehicles face a £12.50 charge if they want to take their recycling to the local tip.

The zone was expanded to cover all areas within the North and South Circular roads – home to some 3.8 million people – in a bid to lower emissions in the capital.

As a result, Townmead Road Re-use and Recycling Centre in Richmond, south west London, is now in the ULEZ zone.

But the nearby district of Richmond, which the recycling centre serves, is not.

Residents said the move is ‘wholly unfair’ on members of the community who ‘just want to do that right thing’.

And they have been further enraged after Mr Khan urged them to drive to a recycling centre in Hounslow – a journey which is more than three times the distance.

The ULEZ zone expansion was introduced to make the previous zone 18 times larger.

The zone now encompasses areas within the north and south circular roads and has been expanded in a bid to tackle air pollution and reduce NO2 levels which can be harmful to lungs

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ULEZ

 The ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) was introduced in London in April 2019. Here are some of the key questions around the scheme: 

What is it?  The ULEZ is a way of charging vehicles which emit the most nitrogen oxide for entering parts of London.

When does it apply?  The daily charge runs from midnight to midnight every day.

Where is it happening?  The scheme is within the same area as the congestion charging zone, before being expanded to within the North and South Circular roads from October 2021.

What vehicles are included?  All vehicles are affected apart from black taxis. It applies to all petrol cars made before 2006 and diesel cars made before 2015. London residents are not excluded.  

How much does it cost to enter the zone with an older vehicle?  It costs £12.50 for most vehicle types, including cars, motorcycles and vans. Heavier vehicles such as lorries, buses and coaches are liable for a £100 charge.

How can I avoid the charge?  To be exempt from the Ulez charge, petrol cars, vans and minibuses must meet the Euro 4 emissions standard and diesels must meet Euro 6. That means the oldest cars that can be driven in central London without paying are roughly a four-year-old diesel model or a 13-year-old petrol model.

What happens if I don’t pay?  If you fail to pay the charge, car drivers face a £160 Penalty Charge Notice (reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days). Lorry drivers will be handed a much larger fine of £1,000 (reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days).

What if I don’t know my vehicle’s emissions standard? Drivers can check whether their vehicle is liable for a charge by entering its registration on the Transport for London website.

It has operated since April 2019, but previously only covered the same area of central London as the Congestion Charge.

It now includes all areas within the North and South Circular roads in an attempt to boost air quality.

Drivers of vehicles which do not comply with minimum emissions standards are being now being charged £12.50-a-day. 

For diesel cars to avoid the charge they must generally have been first registered after September 2015, while most petrol models registered from 2005 are also exempt. 

It is another blow for drivers and comes as the price of petrol hit a new record high.  Around 130,000 drivers are thought to be impacted.

As part of the expansion, recycling centre now falls just short of the A205 South Circular boundary which runs over Kew Bridge and is exempt from the emissions tax.

A camera will capture anyone leaving the recycling centre or Mortlake Crematorium on Townmead Road.

Councillors and residents are concerned about accessing key services and said people who are trying to save the planet or bury their loved ones could end up being penalised.

Angry residents were also quick to point out the contradiction of cutting back emissions while dissuading people from recycling.

A survey taken at the time found three in five motorists were unaware London’s pollution charge zone for older vehicles was being expanded.

Only 43 per cent of drivers said they are aware of the expansion, according to the study by car sales website Motorway.

Just a third – 35 per cent – surveyed knew how to check if their vehicle was compliant with ULEZ.

Meanwhile even fewer were confident about the extended zone’s new boundaries, the poll of more than 2,000 revealed.

Three quarters of the panel surveyed live in Greater London and the remainder within an hour of the capital.

The Mayor of London has been approached for comment.

GLA Conservatives’ letter to Sadiq Khan in full: 

Dear Mr Mayor,

We are writing to request you rule out the introduction of a boundary charge for drivers entering Greater London in the latest Transport for London (TfL) bailout negotiations.

As outlined in TfL’s Financial Sustainability Plan, your proposal to charge up to £5.50 to drive into the capital would seriously hurt Outer London and the Home Counties.

Around 1.35 million vehicles drive into Greater London each weekday. Of these trips, one million are into Outer London. A majority of these vehicles are registered outside the capital, so liable to pay your proposed daily boundary charge.

This means at least 675,000 motorists would be hit by the charge each day. According to TfL’s initial estimates, the number of weekday car trips into Greater London would fall by 8%, that’s 108,000 fewer visitors a day.

Let’s be clear what these figures mean for our communities inside the capital and out.

For Outer London, a boundary charge would penalise people visiting family and friends. It would hurt local businesses and high streets which rely on customers and visitors from outside the capital. It would also deter people living outside the boundary from working in Greater London, undermining our businesses and public services.

Over half of London’s police officers and firefighters live outside the capital. According to a London NHS Trust, one-fifth of its staff, doctors and nurses could be hit by the charge.

A survey of schools in the London Borough of Bromley also revealed that many teachers live outside the capital. One school said that 40% of its employees could be hit by the charge, warning that it would struggle to retain and recruit teaching staff.

For the Home Counties, a boundary charge would mean a substantial pay cut of up to £1,000 a year for people who regularly drive into Greater London for work. It would also separate some communities from their nearest town centre, school or hospital.

Many could face charges of up to £33 a day to drive into the capital – the combined cost of the Greater London Boundary Charge, Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone.

It also punishes people who are only able to access London’s public transport network by driving to places such as Stanmore and Epping. Unlike central London, many places in Outer London and neighbouring communities, like Harefield in Hillingdon and Biggin Hill in Bromley, have poor public transport links.

If you are genuinely concerned by the number of cars driving into the capital, you should look at the public transport provision in Outer London. Rather than imposing new road taxes, you need to give people a real alternative to driving and install electric charging points to enable people to switch to electric vehicles.

Fundamentally, charging drivers to enter the capital flies in the face of your ‘London is Open’ message and ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign. It would erect a barrier around Greater London, keeping visitors, customers and workers away, benefiting no-one and hurting everyone.

Despite assuring the London Assembly back in June that TfL would publish a feasibility report into the charge, they are yet to do so. However, you continue to threaten this tax despite not knowing the impact it would have on people and businesses.

You cannot push the bill for the failed policies and mismanagement of your mayoralty onto others. It is a fact that TfL has already lost billions of pounds before the pandemic even hit.

Irresponsibly freezing fares cost at least £640 million in lost revenue. The delay to Crossrail has cost nearly £4 billion in bailouts and lost TfL £1.35 billion in fares revenue. TfL’s perks, bonuses and golden pensions waste millions of pounds a year.

UK taxpayers will continue to keep London moving through this crisis. You do not need to threaten them. But, you do need to do your bit to balance TfL’s books.

We urge you to drop your boundary charge proposal as you enter new negotiations on a further bailout for TfL. This will be the fourth bailout and build on the almost £5 billion the Government has provided to keep London moving. Instead of making threats, we call on you to constructively work with the Government to agree on a funding settlement that works for London and the entire country.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Fortune, AM for Bexley and Bromley

Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster

Gareth Bacon, MP for Orpington

Shaun Bailey, London-wide AM

John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay

Emma Best, London-wide AM

Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East

Cllr Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler, Leader of the Conservative Group in Hammersmith and Fulham

Andrew Bof, London-wide AM

Felicity Buchan, MP for Kensington

Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington

Cllr Oliver Cooper, Leader of the Conservative Group in Camden

Cllr Kevin Davis, Leader of the Conservative Group in Kingston upon Thames

Tony Devenish, AM for West Central

Cllr Tom Drummond, Leader of the Conservative Group in Sutton

Cllr Ian Edwards, Leader of Hillingdon Council

Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford

Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green

Louie French, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup

Neil Garratt, AM for Croydon and Sutton

Susan Hall, London-wide AM

Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of the Conservative Group in Richmond upon Thames

Adam Holloway, MP for Gravesham

Cllr Linda Huggett, Leader of the Conservative Group in Redbridge

Cllr Tim James, Leader of the Conservative Group in Waltham Forest

Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford

Cllr Joanne Laban, Leader of the Conservative Group in Enfield

Julia Lopez, MP for Hornchurch and Upminster

Joy Morrissey, MP for Beaconsfield

Sir Bob Neill, MP for Bromley and Chislehurst

Cllr Teresa O’Neill, Leader of Bexley Council

Cllr Paul Osborn, Leader of the Conservative Group in Harrow

Cllr Jason Perry, Leader of the Conservative Group in Croydon

Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South

Keith Prince, AM for Havering and Redbridge

Nick Rogers, AM for South West

Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford

Dean Russell, MP for Watford

Paul Scully, MP for Sutton and Cheam

David Simmonds, MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

Cllr Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council

Henry Smith, MP for Crawley

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford and Woodford Green

Dr Ben Spencer, MP for Runnymede and Weybridge

Cllr Gregory Stafford, Leader of the Conservative Group in Ealing

Colonel Bob Stewart, MP for Beckenham

Cllr Daniel Thomas, Leader of Barnet Council

Laura Trott, MP for Sevenoaks

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet

Cllr Damian White, Leader of Havering Council

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