Two Conservative councillors in Romford are calling on Havering Council to join the legal action begun by other boroughs in opposition to the extension of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ). 

Cllr David Taylor (St Edwards) and Cllr Judith Holt (St Albans) have said they wish to see the council legally challenge the Mayor of London’s decision to expand the ULEZ to incorporate the whole of Greater London. 

From August 29 this year, drivers of most non-compliant vehicles entering the expanded zone will have to pay a £12.50 fee. The mayor, Sadiq Khan, has described the extension of the ULEZ as necessary to “reduce toxic air pollution, help tackle the climate emergency and cut congestion in our city”. 

Last month, Havering Council confirmed it had not signed the section eight agreement with Transport for London (TfL), which grants permission to erect CCTV cameras and road signs on borough roads. 

However, as acknowledged by the council, the mayor retains powers to introduce and operate the zone without the agreement being signed, and cameras believed to be intended for ULEZ have been seen getting installed across the borough. 

Cllr Holt and Cllr Taylor however would like to see Havering Council’s Havering Residents’ Association/Labour administration go further and follow in the footsteps of boroughs including Hillingdon and Bexley and challenge the mayor in the courts. 

Romford Recorder: Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, announced his plans to extend the ULEZ late last yearSadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, announced his plans to extend the ULEZ late last year (Image: Greater London Authority)

The grounds on which they believe the mayor could be challenged include allegations such as a failure to comply with relevant statutory requirements, that the scrappage scheme was not consulted upon, and that there was inadequate consultation and/or apparent predetermination arising from the conduct of the consultation. 

Cllr Taylor said: “We are both disappointed by the level of fight we have seen from Havering Council, and we believe that the only way the Mayor of London will listen to us now is if we join the legal action.” 

He added that he believes the £12.50 fee will “really hurt Romford”, especially the high street, and that the scrappage scheme in its current guise “is not enough”. 

Noting reports that expanding the ULEZ will cost TfL around £200m, Cllr Taylor asked: “How many non-compliant cars could we get off the road if we improved the scrappage scheme by £200m?” 

Romford Recorder: The Mayor is planning to extend the ULEZ to cover all of Greater London from August 29 this yearThe Mayor is planning to extend the ULEZ to cover all of Greater London from August 29 this year (Image: PA Graphics)

Cllr Holt said: “We feel that Havering Council should be taking a stand against this tax and following the example of Bexley, Harrow and the other three councils which are taking legal action."

She argued the ULEZ expansion, coupled with a car parking charge rise, "will dissuade visitors to Romford even further, especially those on lower incomes".

A spokesperson for the mayor highlighted how 178 people in Havering currently die prematurely every year due to air pollution, and that the ULEZ extension is designed to help tackle the issues of toxic air, the climate emergency and congestion in London. 

They added: “The mayor has listened to Londoners throughout this process, which is why he’s announced the biggest scrappage scheme yet - £110m - to help the Londoners who need it most, including charities, low income and disabled Londoners, small businesses and sole traders.  

“The mayor continues to call on central government to provide additional funding to London and the surrounding areas for scrappage schemes, as they have done for other cities across England.  

“Any net revenue received from the ULEZ will be reinvested into running and improving London’s transport network, including to expand bus routes in outer London.” 

A Havering Council spokesperson directed the Recorder to its previous statement on not signing the section eight agreement. 

As part of that statement, it said:“We are clearly aware under Section 295 GLA Act 1999, the mayor has powers to introduce and operate a “charging scheme in respect of the keeping or use of motor vehicles on roads in its area”.

“Even without what is known as a section eight agreement being signed, the permission to install the infrastructure is still available to the mayor. 

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“The Act also overrides any issues around planning consent required in relation to the cameras and signage. 

“To date, we have not heard of any strong legal case to stop ULEZ being implemented, but remain open-minded to any arguments to the contrary. We will always act in the best overall interests of our residents.” 

Cllr Taylor said a peaceful protest is also being organised for March 1, to be held outside the town hall from 7pm ahead of the council’s budget meeting, to push for legal action to be taken.