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Lib Dem and Tory Hopefuls Condemn ULEZ Decision

Published on: 1 Aug, 2023
Updated on: 3 Aug, 2023

By Martin Giles

The High Court decision that has resulted in the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the borders of Surrey has been criticised by both leading contenders to be Guildford’s MP after the next general election.

Expansion of the zone is the policy of Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan. A court challenge against the expansion, brought jointly by several neighbouring local authorities was rejected, meaning the charge will be extending across all London boroughs from August 29.

See: ULEZ Defeat for Surrey – Council Leader Says Decision Will Damage Lives

The Lib Dems claim that thousands of drivers across Guildford Borough will be hit by the charge and Zoe Franklin their prospective Parliamentary candidate said: “Our Conservative MP must stand up for people who have to drive into London.” The extended zone will be less than ten miles from parts of Guildford borough.

A map showing the London Congestion Charge, Ultra Low Emission and Low Emission Zones. The expanded ULEZ will cover the area currently under LEZ . Click on image to expand.

Guildford’s Conservative MP, Angela Richardson, was quick to respond, saying: “I am extremely disappointed at the decision that the High Court has reached.

Angela Richardson MP

“People in Guildford regularly need to drive into outer London to work, visit family and access services.

“The ULEZ expansion will mean families will have to pay unnecessary charges when many are struggling with the cost of living.

“Unlike the Liberal Democrats in the London Assembly, the Conservatives have been against Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion from day one.”

‘Polluted air causes life-changing illnesses’

Cllr Howard Smith

But Labour borough councillor Howard Smith [Westborough] backed the decision to expand the charging zone. He said: “It’s no great surprise that Guildford Liberal Democrats are once again joining forces with the Conservatives, this time opposing the expanded ULEZ scheme in London.

“It is estimated that 9 out of 10 cars are already compliant and Mayor Sadiq Kahn has launched the UK’s largest ever vehicle scrappage scheme.

“Clearly public health is a low priority for Zoe Franklin, because we know that polluted air causes life-changing illnesses such as cancer, asthma and lung disease. I’m sure her attitude will also worry many in Guildford who have concerns about our own air quality issues along the A3.”

Zoe Franklin, Lib Dem candidate

In a press release, Ms Franklin said: “Thousands of people in our area will be liable for the charge, including our NHS staff, teachers, carers and local businesses who rely on their cars for their work every day, or others who have to attend hospital appointments or support elderly relatives within the expanded zone.

“There are 1.6 million vehicles across the home counties liable for the charge, it is shameful that the Conservative government has no plan to help the people affected.”

‘Pause the expansion while support is put in place’

She continued: “The Liberal Democrats are calling for London Mayor Sadiq Khan to pause ULEZ expansion while proper support is put in place for people to change their vehicles and for the Conservatives to put that support in place for people who live across Guildford borough.

“The Conservative government and Labour Mayor are playing politics over the expansion of ULEZ but ignoring the concerns of drivers outside London.

  • Across Guildford borough, more than a quarter of private vehicles don’t meet ULEZ standards, leaving more than eighteen and a half thousand drivers liable for the daily charge.
  • The government provided more than £800 million for car scrappage schemes in other cities around the country as part of clean air zone initiatives but has failed to offer any funding for London’s ULEZ expansion.
  • The Liberal Democrats call on the Conservative government to fund a scheme to help commuters in the home counties.”

‘Lib Dems change their policy with the wind’

But MP Richardson responded: “At the recent council elections, the Liberal Democrats put in their manifesto a proposal for a clean air zone in Guildford. If the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate isn’t happy penalising drivers in London, why is she so happy to support a proposal that does such in Guildford?

“Whilst Liberal Democrats continue to change their policy with the wind, I will continue to stand up for Guildford residents and demand that Sadiq Khan scraps his ULEZ tax.”




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Responses to Lib Dem and Tory Hopefuls Condemn ULEZ Decision

  1. John Ferns Reply

    August 1, 2023 at 1:17 pm

    “At the recent council elections, the Liberal Democrats put in their manifesto a proposal for a clean air zone in Guildford. If the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate isn’t happy penalising drivers in London, why is she so happy to support a proposal that does such in Guildford?”

    ‘Nuff said.

    And yet more blatant political point scoring from “new boy on the block” Cllr Smith, who does himself, and the party he represents, no credit.

    Does any political party deserve our vote at election time?

    • Stuart Barnes Reply

      August 2, 2023 at 10:14 pm

      The answer to Mr Ferns’s last last paragraph is no. Once again we will be in the situation that has existed since the demise of the great Lady Thatcher; that is we must vote against the worst candidate.

      On the actual subject of Khan’s hated ULEZ money making scheme – we do not want it here.

  2. Martin Elliott Reply

    August 1, 2023 at 3:00 pm

    People keep reporting that ULEZ Expansion is a policy of Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

    Actually it was a condition of the 2020 Emergency Financial Settlement from Conservative Minister Grant Shapps.
    I wonder why the Conservatives and Media don’t acknowledge that it may have been a London Mayor plan, but HMG imposed it upon him to achieve it.

    So which party and candidates can you believe actually consider ALL the benefits and drawbacks for ALL road users and residents and visitors in a proportional and balanced way.

  3. Mark Bray-Parry Reply

    August 1, 2023 at 3:31 pm

    I am disappointed to read that Zoe Franklin is calling for a pause of the ULEZ expansion. Given that the Lib Dems also took 4 years to come up with a £50m climate action plan that they must have known the Council’s finances couldn’t fund, one questions who voters concerned about the environment can trust come the next General Election:

    A Tory Party who are unashamedly “on the side of drivers” and rowing back on environment commitments.

    The Labour Party, led by Kier “I hate tree huggers” Starmer and u-turning on every policy that may be opposed by the red wall voters.

    Or the Liberal Democrats who, on this evidence, will make environmental commitments and then u-turn the minute they feel it will benefit their electoral chances.

    Time to put the health of the public above politics.

  4. Brian Creese Reply

    August 2, 2023 at 11:17 am

    So much for Zoe Franklin and the Lib Dems supporting green policies and being part of some sort of “progressive alliance”. One small electoral wobble and the Lib Dem pretence crashes around them.

    Those with any memory of 2010 know that Lib Dems forget their policies remarkably quickly, but giving up on supporting clean air and healthier life chances for Londoners is utterly cynical and disgraceful.

    Guildford has some of the most toxic air in Surrey, specifically in Westborough, and this causes increased bronchial and asthmatic conditions.

    Until now I thought the Lib Dems were an ally of Labour and the Greens in looking for real action to alleviate this situation. But once again the only thing you can trust a Lib Dem to do is not to follow their own policy when there is short-term electoral gain to be had. I am genuinely shocked by thier press release – surely the worst thing Ms Franklin has ever put her name to.

    As for our MP Angela Richardson, where was she when this was Tory policy for London Mayor Boris Johnson?

    Brian Creese is a former chair of Guildford Labour

  5. Mark Bray-Parry Reply

    August 2, 2023 at 2:54 pm

    I can’t decide if this is worse than stating your support for the North Street redevelopment on an election leaflet as your councillors simultaneously vote it down.

    Guildford politics is often dysfunctional but at least it is entertaining.

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