A motion criticising the Mayor of London's planned expansion of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone and calling for the restoration of an important bus service between the borough and Barnet has been agreed this week.
Hertsmere Borough Councillors approved the motion at their full council meeting on Wednesday (25 January) calling for the Mayor for London to reconsider the proposed expansion of the zone, which they branded a 'stealth tax', and requesting Hertsmere's MP, Oliver Dowden CBE to raise the issue with the Mayor and the Secretary of State for Transport as a matter of urgency.
An amendment to the motion, endorsed by councillors, also called for a bus service link between Potters Bar and Barnet via Hadley Highstone to be restored as a top priority. Councillors argued the link was needed in order to mitigate the impact of the proposed ULEZ expansion zone, particularly the impact on Potters Bar Community Hospital and Barnet Hospital patients and key workers.
The expansion, which is due to come into effect on 29 August, will cover all of Greater London and means that residents in the borough who currently travel into Stanmore or Barnet as part of their daily commute, will either have to buy an ULEZ-compliant car or face a daily charge of £12.50. ULEZ compliant cars are those that meet the emissions standards, and includes most petrol cars registered since 2006 and most diesel cars registered since September 2015.
Cllr Linda Silver, ward councillor for Bushey Park, who proposed the motion said: "Many living in the Bushey area who have jobs such as nurses, drivers, charity workers, who drive to Stanmore station and use the train, have appealed to me that life is so expensive, a further daily tax will just break them.
"We need to do our very best to support these residents. Of course, cleaner cars are very important but older cars are maintained by many who do not need this change at this time of severe cost of living pressures.
"The Mayor carried out a consultation and almost 60 per cent are against this expansion. Key workers would have pressure brought on their shoulders to afford to buy a compliant vehicle which is just intolerable. I ask the members of the council to recognise the pressure it would put on many of our residents and seriously ask the Mayor of London to reconsider his proposal."
Cllr Anne Swerling, who also represents Bushey Park and seconded the motion, said: "We all know the financial difficulties people face at this time, and to change one’s car at this time is an added expense, and neither one favourable for the environment. What do we do with all these old cars?
"To target those who can least afford to update their cars, in particular key workers and pensioners is unfair, and what about those who just want to drive to Stanmore to do their shopping. Not everyone lives on the bus route or could carry their shopping on the bus. And what effect will this have on the local shops?
"The Mayor needs to seriously reconsider what he is asking residents to do. I agree that something needs to be done to control emissions, but not in a way that puts such a financial burden on those who can least afford it."
The motion also called for support to be sought from Hertfordshire County Council, London Borough of Barnet councillors, London Assembly Member, and for a public meeting with Transport for London to be held to discuss how to bring about a replacement route.
Posted on Friday 27th January 2023