On Saturday, London’s Trafalgar Square was the scene of a protest against the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) implemented in the city. Organised by the group Together Declaration, council leaders, politicians, and TV personalities joined people from all walks of life to express their frustrations with the new regulations, their expansion and their impact on their daily lives.
The ULEZ, which went into effect on 8 April 2019, initially covered the same area as the T-charge but applies 24/7, 365 days a year, with current charges of £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorcycles and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan now wants to extend the ULEZ zone to all of Greater London in August. However, a judge has now agreed to hear a challenge by four London boroughs one of which spoke at today’s event.
The court’s decision is an embarrassing setback for the mayor.
Today’s protestors feel that the ULEZ is unfairly targeting those who cannot afford to upgrade to newer, cleaner vehicles and that it will have a negative impact on small businesses that rely on their vehicles for transportation and disabled people who need daily carers and support from family.
Additionally, there are concerns that the ULEZ will extend to other cities and follow Oxford’s ‘traffic filters’ scheme that forces car owners to apply for daylong permits to bypass the new rules for a fee to authorities. Cambridge is another city implementing a daily charge.
Many believe the schemes have no significant impact on air pollution, citing that the most polluting vehicles are used for commercial purposes and will be exempt from the charge.
Together Declaration has been campaigning against the ULEZ since its introduction. The group argues that the ULEZ is a regressive policy that unfairly targets those on low incomes and negatively impacts the economy. They are calling for the ULEZ to be scrapped and for the government to establish alternative solutions to tackle air pollution.
Leading a host of speakers Alan Miller (pictured above), C0-Founder of the Together Declaration, said:
“Today, we just want our voices heard, we are not children, and we are able to make up our own minds. They call us conspiracy theorists, even Nazis. All this demonstrates a contempt for the public and shows a complete inability to engage in meaningful debate.”
TV Personality Tonia Buxton said:
“This is taking serious amounts of money from the public and is about control. He is the greatest living fascist as far as I’m concerned. We need to write to our MPs and councils to let them know how we feel.”
Howard Cox, Founder of the FairFuelUK Campaign, said:
“Sadiq Khan is so dishonest. It’s unbelievable. This is not going to make any difference to the air we breathe. The only difference is he is going to make a shed load of cash by fleecing motorists.”
‘No to ULEZ’
Cries of ‘Get Khan out’ and ‘No to ULEZ’ often ensued between speakers.
Former MP and political commentator Lembit Öpik (pictured above) said:
“The reality is they have lost touch with the public. It’s unscientific and will cost lives, it will. It’s undemocratic! Most people in London do not want this! You cannot run this city on bicycles. It’s one of the biggest cities in the world!”
British politician, Shaun Bailey said:
“Two years ago, when I ran for Mayor of London, I told people this is a tax on Londoners and yet another tax on your families. Let’s keep it civil, so he [Sadiq Khan] cannot take the focus off the issue at hand. He has lied to us for the last seven years.”
The protest was incredibly peaceful, with speeches from activists and affected individuals.