Fighting ULEZ - My Speech
On July 13th, I put a motion before Havering Council that it "Oppose ULEZ by all means within it's power".
Labour tabled and amendment that, in my opinion watered down the fight.
However, I am pleased to see that even though my motion didn't pass, Havering has now committed to fighting ULEZ expansion.
My speech is below.
Thank you, Mr Mayor.
Mr Mayor, Havering faces a climate emergency. Our air is toxic, people in London die because of it, and humanity’s impact on the climate is devastating. The poorest, across Havering and the globe, will be hardest hit.
Something, Mr Mayor, has to be done about this.
However I, and our residents, do not feel that ULEZ is that something.
Mr Mayor, ULEZ is a blunt instrument when precision is needed. It’s a flat-rate tax that will disproportionately impact those on low incomes. It is suitable for inner city boroughs, but not for a town and country borough like Havering.
Our public transport links leave many dependent on their car.
Many of our friends and family live outside of London, including our carers and NHS heroes. They will not benefit from any TFL grant to replace their car. Not that the two thousand pounds offered would buy a car anyway.
Mr Mayor, in a meeting last week TFL told me that there would be no concessions for local charities. They also told me that the those attending NHS appointments would be able to apply for a rebate.
You and I, Mr Mayor. We’re young and internet savvy. But how can we demand that those rushing in and out of hospital, especially our elderly, sit down on a clunky TFL website to get their money back?
There is then the cost of ULEZ expansion. TFL have revealed that expansion will cost two-hundred million. This is before they hand out grants for new vehicles. Last time they handed out over sixty million and, by their own admission, only removed a fraction of the problem cars.
Mr Mayor, TFL claimed ULEZ would bring in two-million pounds per day. However it’s currently bringing in just six-hundred thousand.
They got their maths wrong and have created yet another financial black hole in TFL’s finances. And who will pay, Mr Mayor? You and I will. Our GLA tax will increase and TFL fares will increase.
Two-hundred million has been estimated to buy five-hundred electric buses or fund hundreds of low-traffic school streets.
This money could be put to better use, to ensure Havering’s residents have better public transport, rather than a guarantee of future fare rises.
But, Mr Mayor, we all know this. This is why even the Labour party have tabled a motion that states Havering opposes ULEZ.
So the question is not “Do we oppose it?” The question is how.
Labour’s amendment waters down Havering’s ability to negotiate with the Mayor of London.
In much the same way a Union can threaten a strike, if conditions are not met, Havering must be able to threaten full opposition if the Mayor of London refuses to concede.
Mr Mayor, to remove the wording that we will ‘oppose by all means within our power’ is to suggest that there is a form of ULEZ that we would be accepted in Havering.
It is to say that the Mayor of London may change his mind, giving us a better deal. There is no compulsion for him to do so, if there is not the threat of real opposition.
There is no concession that could be made that would mean my residents cheer the implementation of ULEZ.
Mr Mayor, this chamber seems united in our opposition to ULEZ. We must now decide how we fight it.
The HRA promised, in their manifesto, that they would ask the Mayor of London to look at alternatives. This suggests that they believe ULEZ isn’t suitable.
Conservatives promised that we’d fight ULEZ expansion.
We can both meet our election promises through this motion. Labour’s does not do that.
Mr Mayor, by removing the threat of opposition by everything within our means, we are taking a risk.
We’re taking a risk with our local businesses. We’re taking a risk with local charities. We’re taking a risk with our NHS Heroes.
It is not our job to put other’s livelihoods at risk. It is our job to do all we can to protect them.
Mr Mayor. I ask that the chamber empowers Havering Council to fight ULEZ by all means within its power. Instead of tying their hands and relying on the Mayor of London to change his mind.
If you oppose ULEZ expansion. I ask that you back the Conservatives motion.