Sutton Council has said it will refuse TfL access to install cameras in its borough as part of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ultra Low Emission (ULEZ) roll-out.
The scheme, already in place in Greater London, is set to expand across all London boroughs in August this year.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The mayor’s decision to expand the ULEZ London-wide was not easy, but necessary to reduce the capital’s toxic air pollution, tackle the climate emergency and cut congestion in our city.
“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year due to the toxic air in our city, with data from Imperial College London revealing as many as 118 deaths are attributable to toxic air in Sutton each year – this is unacceptable.”
Drivers of older, non-compliant cars will have to pay £12.50 a day to use their vehicle, a move which Sutton Council said will hit their poorest residents hardest, in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.
Sutton councillor Bobby Dean said: “Liberal Democrats want to see action on clean air. But we care about inequality too.”
Councillor Dean said for the expansion to be fair, the mayor needs to offer transport upgrades and a better scrappage scheme that will help more people.
He added: “We don’t have inner London’s access to public transport.
“We have no tube stops, no London overground service, our proposed tram link was cancelled and even our bus and rail services have gone backwards since the pandemic.
“The mayor has to understand why this expansion is different to what he’s done before.“
The mayor said he’s listened to Londoners and announced the biggest scrappage scheme yet – £110m – to help the Londoners who need it most, including charities, low income and disabled Londoners, micro-businesses and sole traders.
But Sutton Council said many of their residents won’t qualify for the scrappage scheme will still face serious financial hardships because of the ULEZ expansion.
Chris, a music teacher and musician who lives in Carshalton, will not qualify for the scrappage scheme laid out by the mayor.
He and his whole family are already worried about how the ULEZ will affect them.
Chris’ musical equipment and books make using public transport impossible, while his wife works as a volunteer for St John Ambulance and the NHS.
She frequently travels to sites in and out of Sutton, which have poor transport links, and often works late at night.
Her car is often the only way she can get to work.
Chris said: “My elderly parents live in Banstead, which is just the other side of the proposed ULEZ ‘border’.
“As pensioners, they drive an older, non-compliant vehicle and are already anxious about what the £12.50 daily charge will mean for them.
“I’m upset to learn that, as neither my wife nor I claim benefits, we do not qualify for the scrappage scheme as outlined in the mayor’s proposals.
“We scrape by each month – I currently have £100 of overdraft left in my bank – but my annual income is apparently too high to qualify for any benefits and we having nothing saved.”
Chris and his wife cannot afford to get new, compliant cars without help.
He was counting on the scrappage scheme to provide some support and knows his whole family will be hit very hard by this new charge when it is introduced later this year.
Chris added: “If the ULEZ scheme comes into operation as planned, I will have to find at least an extra £300 in ULEZ charges between September and October this year alone.
“This is simply unsustainable for us.”
Nathan Field, a 19-year-old, University student at Surrey said: “I am 100% against the scheme.
“I live at home with my brother in Sutton after our parents passed away in 2016 and 2020 and I have to commute by car to Guildford daily to attend lectures.”
Nathan also lives off student finance, and is at university on a full-time basis, so finds working alongside that difficult.
He also looks after his two elderly grandparents in Epsom and regularly sees them throughout the week and on weekends.
Nathan chose his Ford Fiesta Diesel 1.4 – which is not ULEZ compliant because it was good value for the mileage I was doing.
He said: “If I am unable to find a suitable car, the ULEZ is going place me at a massive financial disadvantage.
“I cannot afford £12.50 per day.”
In response to Sutton Council’s decision, a TfL spokesperson said: “The Mayor has been clear that with 4,000 Londoners a year dying from toxic air, his decision to expand the ULEZ should be implemented with minimal delay.
“In doing so we are working closely and collaboratively with all boroughs concerned to install the infrastructure needed.”
Nick Mattey, Councillor for the Sutton Independent Resident’s Party, said: “The ULEZ expansion scheme is unfair on the most vulnerable people in society,
“Many people will not be able to afford to use their cars, forcing them to give them up, which will completely turn their lives upside down.”