In his recent piece in the Recorder, Andrew Rosindell used his platform to add fuel to the existing heat generated by open public fear and hostility towards Greater London ULEZ expansion.  

As can be expected by this point, Rosindell flies his 'town and country' flag in his long-standing attempt to associate Romford with Essex (a historic connection), rather than London (Havering is in fact a borough of London).  

Rosindell's focus on location is ironic because this is a salient point in favour of ULEZ expansion, given that the air pollution in Havering is among the worst in England's capital. So, this isn't about 'historic identities', but a very current health crisis that is impacting poorer and marginalised people - who contribute the least to air pollution - with the worst health impacts.  

Rosindell claimed that “[t]here is no evidence that [ULEZ expansion] will improve air quality”. He referred to the Integrated Impact Assessment (IIA) to support this assertion, and also argued for widespread lack of support for ULEZ expansion. 

Actually, the IIA specifies that ULEZ expansion will have a positive impact on nitrogen dioxide reduction, which is a harmful pollutant: an unsurprising finding given that “[d]iesel engines, once promoted as more environmentally-friendly alternatives to petrol, have contributed to the high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in London”. 

Romford Recorder: Andrew Rosindell, MP for RomfordAndrew Rosindell, MP for Romford (Image: Parliament)

Rosindell also mentioned that “Romford has no Underground station”.  In fact, not only is the new Elizabeth Line part of the TFL underground network, the station has the overground link to Upminster (c2c & Underground), and Romford is at the centre of Havering’s bus network. 

Rosindell's voting history does not reflect care for the climate crisis or environment, and it doesn't seem surprising that he is so vehemently against a scheme that is being implemented by our London Mayor who, far from “dictating” his iron will, has listened carefully to expert advice about how ULEZ expansion “is one of the most effective ways to reduce emissions from road transport and improve air quality” (letter to the Telegraph dated 27/12/22). 

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We understand that residents in Havering are concerned about costs, however I hope I've gone some way in highlighting the facts: that air pollution levels in Havering are harming our (in particular, children's) lungs.

Ella Roberta Adoo Kissi Debrah's tragic death at only age nine years of age was “contributed to by exposure to excessive air pollution in London”, and so this is a matter of our human rights and social justice. As hard as change seems, we simply can't sustain our current emissions during this invisible but already deadly public health crisis.  

ULEZ expansion will go ahead, but there is no intention to leave residents high and dry by the scheme. From a public health perspective, it is necessary that we listen to health experts who, in their recent letter to the Telegraph, declare that they “are in full support of extending the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone...[g]etting the most polluting vehicles off the road, as well as providing financial support to those who need it to make this transition”. 

Ruth Kettle-Frisby is a member of the Romford Quakers and the Havering Climate Coalition.