On March 1st, Havering Council met to debate the budget.
I presented the Conservative's amendments which included a proposal to fund legal action against ULEZ.
Conservatives proposed that £300,000 be set aside for legal costs. We also stated that, in the event we are too late to join the judicial review, that money be used to help our poorest residents meet the cost of ULEZ.
Hundreds of protestors joined us outside Havering Town Hall, calling on the council to fund the fight.
Unfortunately, Labour and the Resident's Association voted against our amend and, therefore, voted not to fund the fight against ULEZ.
The ULEZ part of my speech is below.
I, Mr Mayor, believe that when people are choosing between fuel and food, our LEADERS should eat last.
The Conservatives amendment shows Leadership, by putting the taxpayer’s before ourselves. As Conservatives SHOULD be doing.
Finally, Mr Mayor, we come to the topic of ULEZ.
Perhaps the best thing for me to do here would be to burst into a rendition of “Do you hear the people sing?”.
Mr Mayor, do you hear them singing a song of angry men? Will we, Mr Mayor, give all we can? Will we stand up and take our chance?
For those of you not fond of musicals, I apologise.
Mr Mayor. Despite the claims of some members, Conservatives have not whipped up any anger around ULEZ. People are already angry.
They are angry that Labour’s Sadiq Khan has ignored them. They are angry at lip service being paid to them. Claims of opposition, without a fight.
Mr Mayor. We know that the RA are against ULEZ. But, I fear they are being held back through their coalition with Labour.
Our amendment gives the RA a chance to show they will fight for the residents.
Because Conservatives recognise that this is THEIR money, we are proposing to use it as THEY want. We are proposing to fund Havering’s participation in a Judicial Review to overturn ULEZ.
Mr Mayor. We’ve heard the Leader’s attempts at appeasing people. We’ve read his, and his deputy’s, posts over the past few days. They don’t think the legal action will succeed and so they have, instead, decided to focus on calling for ULEZ to be delayed.
Mr Mayor, our residents don’t want ULEZ delayed, they want ULEZ cancelled.
Other London Boroughs are refusing to roll over. They are combining to provide a true, legal, opposition to Labour’s Khan.
We must do the same.
Mr Mayor, when we debated ULEZ in this chamber, Conservatives proposed a Judicial Review. I remember the words of Councillor Darvill after the meeting.
“We don’t want to give money to the lawyers”. He told me.
We, Mr Mayor. I do and the residents do.
Taking legal action against Khan is money well spent and it sends him a clear message. Havering is not soft. We are not just another part of London, to be used as his personal cash point to fund his ever growing PR department.
However, by sitting on the fence for fear of upsetting Labour, Havering may have missed the boat. It may be too late to join in the judicial review, with other boroughs.
We may be reliant on others to do what our own leaders were afraid to.
Should that be the case, Mr Mayor, Conservatives propose that the 300 thousand allocated for the review be used for a Havering ULEZ Fund.
Many of our residents lack the means to make the adaptations needed. Especially when it comes to changing their car over.
Our 300 thousand pound fund could be utilised to help those hardest hit, adapt. We could provide a Havering scrappage top-up to our carers and NHS heroes. We could provide extra support to small businesses who will be hard-pressed to meet the rising costs.
Mr Mayor, the Conservatives amendment delivers on three key priorities.
We freeze parking costs.
We provide a hardship fund.
We commit to funding the fight against ULEZ.
Mr Mayor, the budget is good. But good should never be the enemy of great. There is always a time to make changes and to do differently.
Our amendment shows true leadership, not a recycling of what went before. It shows a new direction, that puts residents at the heart of things. It recognises that it’s THEIR money
Mr Mayor. Our amendments do not pitch US vs THEM.
It is US FOR THEM.