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Khan defends Ulez expansion after facing hecklers at public debate

London mayor says his “record breaking” election win meant voters had endorsed last year’s Ulez expansion to cover whole of the capital, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan is expanding Ulez this summer
Sadq Khan expanded Ulez last summer

Sadiq Khan faced off with anti-Ulez hecklers at the ‘State of London Debate’ on Thursday (20th), as he claimed Londoners had endorsed the clean air zone by re-electing him.

The mayor told Londoners at the annual event that his “record-breaking” win in last month’s mayoral election meant they had effectively voted to keep the expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) in place.

He also faced questions over whether he will introduce a ‘pay-per-mile’ road user charging system once Ulez revenues dry up – an option Khan explicitly ruled out in his 2024 manifesto.

After an audience member began shouting that the mayor was “destroying London” by charging non-compliant vehicles £12.50 per day, Khan said: “In the election on 2nd May, [Ulez was] the number one issue the Conservative Party stood on – and by the way, the Reform party – it was the number one issue and the only issue. They had leaflets delivered across the entire city.

“They wanted the election on 2nd May to be a referendum on the Ulez. That was the issue, and let me tell you, Londoners gave me a record-breaking, history-making victory on 2nd May.

“Now you either believe in democracy, sir, or you don’t, and this great country of ours believes in democracy – I’m not sure about you.”

The Labour mayor beat his Tory challenger Susan Hall by 275,828 votes – the largest margin of victory in the mayoralty’s history.

Khan expanded the Ulez to cover the whole of London in August 2023. But ten months on, and despite issuing denials, the mayor continues to face questions over whether he will create new road charges.

One woman at the debate asked him: “What are you going to do for the money when you finally drive out all the older cars and vulnerable drivers off the road?

“You promise no pay-per-mile, but you also promised no Ulez extension and look what happened there. Destroyed business, lives, especially the elderly and vulnerable. Can we believe anything you say when it comes to road transport?”

In 2021, Khan had said he had “no plans” to expand the Ulez London-wide, before announcing such plans in 2022.

The mayor replied by saying 95% of vehicles seen driving on an average day in London are now compliant, meaning they “don’t pay a penny, but see the benefits of cleaner air”.

He added that he has boosted the Ulez scrappage scheme by tens of millions of pounds, and said roadside emissions across London had halved under his mayoralty.


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