Sadiq Khan has been urged to “go back to the drawing board” and “rethink” his “reckless” expansion of London’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ).
Ian Edwards, the Conservative leader of Hillingdon Council, insisted the move will have a crippling impact on small businesses and self-employed people across the capital.
The ULEZ, which sees drivers pay a £12.50 daily fee for the most polluting vehicles, already covers the area inside the north and south circular roads.
But Mr Khan has made the controversial decision to expand the zone to cover the entirety of outer London from August 29 in a bid to boost air quality.
Mr Edwards, the leader of one of five Tory councils taking legal action in a bid to thwart the expansion, warned it will “slam small businesses and the self-employed with another cost they simply cannot afford”.
Writing for the Express, Mr Edwards said: “We want to make him go back to the drawing board and rethink this reckless policy.”
Edward Green, a personal trainer and sports massage therapist based in Upminster, which is just inside the border of the proposed extension, said he could be forced to close down his business if it goes ahead.
He said: “It will mean that I lose some of my customers. It will mean I’m able to compete for less business.
“It could mean the difference between me being able to carry on the business and not, it’s that significant an impact.”
Mr Green – who has been campaigning against the ULEZ expansion – drives to some customers, while others travel to him. He uses his vehicle to transport his massage bed and weight equipment.
He said: “This week it’s meant I wasn’t able to do two massage jobs which were just inside the A406. But it will significantly affect me beyond that.
“It’s not a huge revenue in business so buying a new car when I’ve got a perfectly serviceable vehicle already is a massive issue.
“I’m based in Upminster and a lot of my customers are from Essex so its adding £12.50 to the price of getting a massage when they’re literally driving a mile over the border at most.
“If they’ve got a choice between coming to me or a therapist in Brentwood or in Thurrock, then I have to charge £12.50 less than the equivalent person.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor has been clear that the decision to expand the ULEZ London-wide was not an easy one, but necessary to tackle toxic air pollution and the climate crisis.
“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year due to toxic air pollution, children are growing up with stunted lungs and thousands of people in our city are developing life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma. Expanding the ULEZ London-wide will enable five million more Londoners to breathe cleaner air.
“We know that many businesses, particularly small businesses and sole traders, are struggling as a result of the cost of living crisis.
“This is why the Mayor has launched a £110 million scrappage scheme for small-businesses and sole traders, as well as charities, Londoners on lower incomes and disabled Londoners.
“The Mayor continues to call on Government to further support the switch to cleaner vehicles through funding a targeted national scrappage scheme or providing additional funding to London as it has done for other cities across the country.”
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