The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has defended the decision to expand the city’s controversial Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
The scheme, which was extended to cover all of Greater London on Tuesday, sees drivers of the most polluting and older vehicles charged £12.50 a day.
The move has provoked a backlash both in London itself and bordering areas of Essex, Kent and Surrey – with some councils refusing to allow ULEZ signs to be put up on their roads.
However Mr Khan has defended the decision, saying that air pollution causes more than 4,000 premature deaths in London a year according to Government figures.
Writing in the Observer, he pointed out that ULEZ had been conceived by former Conservative mayor Boris Johnson and said Tory opposition to the expansion was “everything to do with their desperate attempts to cling to power by trying to weaponise green issues”.
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He added: “The Conservatives have overseen 13 years of decline – with soaring rents and mortgages, devastated public services, sky-high bills and the highest tax burden on working people in a generation. They have nothing to offer.
“That’s why they are desperate to confect a bogus war on the motorist. Division is both their strategy and overriding priority.”
The mayor explained that nine out of 10 cars driven in outer London on an average day were compliant with the scheme and drivers would not have to pay as a result.
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Despite this, opposition to the expansion is fierce, with the Metropolitan Police logging 222 reports of crimes relating to ULEZ cameras in the month leading to the expansion.
The figures include approximately 159 reports of cameras being stolen and 351 cameras being damaged.
The actual number of cameras affected may be higher as a single report can represent multiple offences.
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