Anti-ULEZ protesters demonstrated outside Havering Town Hall last night (March 1) ahead of the council’s annual budget meeting as they called for the borough to fight the London mayor’s expansion plan in the courts. 

Two Conservative councillors, Cllr Judith Holt (St Albans) and Cllr David Taylor (St Edwards), announced plans last month to host the protest, demanding the local authority joins other boroughs such as Hillingdon and Bexley in launching a judicial review

Cllr Taylor told the Recorder that the pair believe the mayor can be challenged on several grounds, including an alleged failure to comply with relevant statutory requirements and a lack of consultation on the scrappage scheme. 

Cllr Holt added the expansion of the zone, which involves a £12.50 charge for most non-compliant vehicles, coupled with a car parking charge rise, "will dissuade visitors to Romford even further, especially those on lower incomes". 

A sizeable crowd gathered in front of the town hall, in Romford, in support of the protest, with multiple placards and signs demanding the scheme’s cancellation. 

Josh, a local resident who rode his motorbike to the event, said he was attending in support of those who may struggle to transition to cleaner vehicles. 

While his own bike is compliant, he said he was only able to upgrade last year due to receiving compensation after being involved in an accident. 

Romford Recorder: Josh was one of those to attend the protest in RomfordJosh was one of those to attend the protest in Romford (Image: Ben Lynch)

Josh, who did not want to include his surname, felt the fact he “had to get hit by a car and break my kneecap” to have the money to fund the vehicle was wrong, and so he felt compelled to take part. 

Other residents meanwhile raised concerns about the potential impact on small businesses and the safety of young children if parents are being charged to drive their cars. 

Romford Recorder: Piers Corbyn at the Romford anti-ULEZ protestPiers Corbyn at the Romford anti-ULEZ protest (Image: Ben Lynch)

The evening even saw a visit from conspiracy theorist Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy, who joined protesters.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said councils involved are urged “to abandon their costly and unnecessary legal challenge and instead focus on the health of those they represent”.  

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“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely every year due to air pollution,” they said. “The mayor is determined to protect the lives of children in London growing up with stunted lungs and all those at risk of developing heart disease, cancer and dementia due to toxic air.” 

During the council meeting, a Conservative amendment to the administration’s proposed budget which included funding for a judicial review was voted down. 

The council leader, Ray Morgon, said the legal action's perceived chance of success was "low at best", and that he was not prepared to "flutter" with residents' money.

Romford Recorder: A range of signs and placards were on-show during the protestA range of signs and placards were on-show during the protest (Image: Ben Lynch)