Mark Harper says ULEZ expansion is 'about raising money'
It comes as the Mayor of London reportedly shelved plans to charge all combustion-engined cars driving into central London, after he spent much of yesterday (Tuesday, August 29) defending the ULEZ expansion. There were multiple reports of ULEZ cameras being vandalised on the day the expansion went live.
Now, Transport Secretary Mark Harper has asked Khan to give drivers a grace period before issuing fines. Harper said it was said it was “not reasonable” for the Mayor to allow people to be fined on Tuesday – because a website to check whether cars were compliant suffered technical problems that meant drivers checking their vehicles were forced to wait several minutes.
Read more… ULEZ proves that Sadiq Khan is unfit to be Mayor of London
Drivers travelling in the zone in a vehicle that does not meet minimum emissions standards are required to pay a £12.50 daily fee or risk a £180 fine, which is reduced to £90 if paid within 14 days. A grace period would mean that motorists with non-compliant vehicles who drove into ULEZ areas on Tuesday, and for a period after that would not be fined. This would allow people more time to adapt to the changes.
The calls for a grace period came as Khan reportedly shelved plans to potentially charge all combustion-engined cars driving into central London. Proposals outlined in the Mayor’s 2018 transport strategy for a “zero emission zone” in the heart of the capital have been dropped, the Financial Times reported.
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office told the paper: “TfL continues to support boroughs who wish to implement zero emission zones in their local areas.”
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The apparent U-turn came after multiple ULEZ cameras were vandalised. On just one road in the south-east London borough of Bromley, which is now part of the expanded zone, 14 cameras were smashed, spray-painted red or had their wires cut.
Vigilantes have repeatedly targeted enforcement cameras in recent months and protesters have taken to the streets to voice their opposition to the ULEZ zone. The Metropolitan Police said it had recorded 288 crimes relating to the cameras as of August 1.
A woman who stumbled across a damaged ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) camera covered with an orange “no Ulez” sign in Harefield in Greater London said the Ulez charge is “too harsh”. AJ Simpson, 36, from Wimbleton, told the PA news agency that she was returning from a day’s work as a children’s entertainer on Monday when she saw the downed Ulez camera.
Ms Simpson said: “I was just going down the road and I noticed it was on the floor, but there was a bit too much traffic on that particular road and so I just turned around and came back again and took a photo of it.”
She said: “It sounds harsh, because I shouldn’t be saying these people can go out and do what they want to do, but it’s not actually hurting anybody. Yes, it’s making the Government pay more money towards fixing them but they’re making the general public pay money to go to work.”
“My father had to get rid of his van. He’s a builder and he’s been a builder in Wimbledon for 20 years. That’s his livelihood, travelling around London, going through London, going to every job.”
Speaking on GB News on Tuesday morning, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said he would stop the rollout if he had the power to do so and highlighted his reservations about the true motives behind the expansion. Regarding a potential fines amnesty, Harper told The Telegraph: “The Labour Mayor of London is responsible for administrating the rollout of his new charge on the poorest motorists.
“With the Transport for London [TfL] website crashing and causing confusion on the ground, it’s not reasonable for Sadiq Khan to punish people by fining them for being caught up in that confusion, and he at least should be considering grace periods.”
However, a TfL spokesman said that “all the signs needed for the enforcement of the scheme are in place, and the boundaries clearly signposted for drivers”.
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