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Chislehurst Matters statement on ULEZ – February 2023

As voted on at full Council on Monday, 27th February, the London Borough of Bromley is against the proposed introduction of the extended ULEZ zone.

With the vast majority of Chislehurst residents who have contacted us on this matter also against the extension, Chislehurst Matters supports this stance.

Five local authorities, including Bromley, have formally served a Pre Action-Protocol letter on the Mayor of London’s office and TfL. They are challenging the expansion on five grounds, including:

  • A failure to consider the number of non-compliant cars in outer London
  • inadequate consultation over the plans
  • The failure of the Mayor to look at a cost benefit analysis of the scheme
  • The lack of any consultation of the ULEZ scrappage scheme.

We are disappointed, especially in the current climate, that Council funds (currently £140,000 set aside) are having to be used to mount a legal challenge to stop this.

However, as many local residents and businesses will be adversely affected, it’s right that it should be challenged. should it go ahead. We also acknowledge that the total cost is being shared with other Councils.

We should like to make it clear that we firmly believe urgent steps are required to improve air quality across London, including in our Borough of Bromley, and this should be the focus rather than a scheme that penalises some residents by hitting them in their pockets.

Furthermore, the whole concept of ULEZ would appear to be flawed because the emissions standards for cars has continually been tightening in recent decades.

We have serious misgivings with the implementation of the Mayor’s current proposals – particularly on the grounds of cost, effectiveness, and the impact on local businesses.

Cost: The less well-off will be hardest hit

It will be expensive for owners of non-compliant vehicles. The cost per day is £12.50 which is a huge financial impact on people already struggling to get by in these difficult times.

Residents such as nurses, carers and key workers, who are reliant on their cars to visit patients and get to work, sometimes at anti social hours when there is no or limited public transport, will be unfairly penalised. Unlike inner London, Bromley does not enjoy the same level of transport links, particularly in our more rural areas.

The people hit the hardest will be those on lowest incomes because many of these will not be able to afford to upgrade their vehicle and the scrappage scheme has severe limitations.

The ULEZ charge will deter people from outside the Borough who have to or wish to drive into Bromley to work, shop, see family, friends, or visit our attractions.

Business: ULEZ will mean an increased burden on many businesses

Many small businesses, such as plumbers, builders and electricians, will have vehicles that do not meet the emission standards and would be hugely financially impacted by an extension of the ULEZ.

This is just another cost added to their already spiralling outgoings in these times of uncertainty; how much could they absorb before having to pass it on to the consumer? We should be supporting SME businesses to grow and expand, not burdening them with even more costs, which could ultimately lead to business closures and job losses.

Effectiveness: There are better ways to reduce air pollution

We feel ULEZ is not the most effective way to reduce air pollution and that there are better policies that could be implemented.

For example:

  • We could look at improving public transport in our Borough, making it more accessible, affordable, and reliable to encourage more people to use it instead of their cars. This could include increasing the frequency of buses and trains, improving the connectivity of routes, and incentives for using public transport such as discounted fares.
  • Cycling and walking could be better promoted as viable alternatives to driving to help reduce the number of cars on the road. This can be achieved through the development of dedicated cycling and walking infrastructure, such as bike lanes and pedestrianized streets, and by providing incentives such as bike-sharing programs or subsidies for purchasing bicycles.
  • Chislehurst currently lacks the infrastructure to encourage walking and cycling and this is something we really want to tackle but it will only be possible with funding streams available from TfL.
  • The roll out of EV charging points could be increased.
  • More incentives and a more comprehensive and fairer vehicle scrappage scheme could also be considered

We also feel more can be done to promote the anti-idling message in the Borough.

Chislehurst Matters will continue to support the Council with their legal challenge, and we will continue to look at alternative options, working with the community to improve air quality across our Borough of Bromley.  We welcome residents’ engagement and suggestions.

Cllr Mike Jack

Cllr Mark Smith

Cllr Alison Stammers