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ULEZ expansion is threat to coffee van business

Bob Gilbert fears the mayor of London's new £12.50 charge could lead to his north west London business going bust

Hero for ULEZ expansion is threat to coffee van business
Credit - Adam Shaw

A coffee van franchisee fear his business could go bust if the London ULEZ is expanded to cover the whole of the city and he is forced to pay the £12.50  daily charge. A coffee van franchisee fear his business could go bust if the London ULEZ is expanded to cover the whole of the city and he is forced to pay the £12.50  daily charge. 

Bob Golbert, 56, runs a coffee truck in North West London, delivering coffee and snacks to more than 30 businesses a day. Bob Golbert, 56, runs a coffee truck in North West London, delivering coffee and snacks to more than 30 businesses a day. 

If the ultra-low emission zone is extended to cover outer London boroughs, the fact his van is diesel will mean he will have to pay £12.50 a day to go on his rounds – something he says could eventually put him out of business. Bob said: “I put a good chunk of my life’s savings into this and, so far, everything’s been going quite well. If the ultra-low emission zone is extended to cover outer London boroughs, the fact his van is diesel will mean he will have to pay £12.50 a day to go on his rounds – something he says could eventually put him out of business. Bob said: “I put a good chunk of my life’s savings into this and, so far, everything’s been going quite well. 

“I haven’t recouped my investment yet, but I’d planned it for a few years down the line. This was supposed to be my last job before retirement but I don’t know if I’ll be able to continue.“I haven’t recouped my investment yet, but I’d planned it for a few years down the line. This was supposed to be my last job before retirement but I don’t know if I’ll be able to continue.

“People say ‘oh it’s only a few coffees’ but it all adds up, it’ll be thousands of pounds. We’re on tight margins as it is, we’re expecting a huge recession. This might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”“People say ‘oh it’s only a few coffees’ but it all adds up, it’ll be thousands of pounds. We’re on tight margins as it is, we’re expecting a huge recession. This might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

Bob took on running his own franchise following the pandemic after he was made redundant from the NGO where he worked for two decades. He said if he is forced to pack it in, he will be in the same position but will be older and with less money. Bob took on running his own franchise following the pandemic after he was made redundant from the NGO where he worked for two decades. He said if he is forced to pack it in, he will be in the same position but will be older and with less money. 

The father of two said he supports the move to driving less polluting vehicles, but said there needs to be the infrastructure in place to enable more people to switch to them.  Bob said: “I would love to buy electric, but I only have on-street parking. There needs to be proper investment into providing charging points so people can make the change. The father of two said he supports the move to driving less polluting vehicles, but said there needs to be the infrastructure in place to enable more people to switch to them.  Bob said: “I would love to buy electric, but I only have on-street parking. There needs to be proper investment into providing charging points so people can make the change. 

“The mayor either hasn’t thought it out properly, or he doesn’t care. I’d really like to ask him which it is. It reminds me of the old mafia films where they come up to you and, even if you don’t have the money they just say ‘f*** you, pay me’.”“The mayor either hasn’t thought it out properly, or he doesn’t care. I’d really like to ask him which it is. It reminds me of the old mafia films where they come up to you and, even if you don’t have the money they just say ‘f*** you, pay me’.”

He added his franchisor, Cafe2U, recently bought a new fleet of electric vehicles in its attempt to “create change” but that they can only be given to those who have access to chargers. Bob also questioned why the planned expansion – which, if approved, is scheduled to come into effect in 2023 – is being put through so quickly when there hasn’t been enough evidence into its impact. He added his franchisor, Cafe2U, recently bought a new fleet of electric vehicles in its attempt to “create change” but that they can only be given to those who have access to chargers. Bob also questioned why the planned expansion – which, if approved, is scheduled to come into effect in 2023 – is being put through so quickly when there hasn’t been enough evidence into its impact. 

He said: “We all want cleaner air for our children, of course we do. It’s a great political soundbite. But we’re not going to have healthier children if they’re growing up in poverty. And as far as I’m aware, the early signs show the air is technically cleaner, but we don’t yet know if this is having an impact on people’s health. There hasn’t been enough time to collect the evidence.”He said: “We all want cleaner air for our children, of course we do. It’s a great political soundbite. But we’re not going to have healthier children if they’re growing up in poverty. And as far as I’m aware, the early signs show the air is technically cleaner, but we don’t yet know if this is having an impact on people’s health. There hasn’t been enough time to collect the evidence.”

Last week, Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers criticised the proposed ULEZ expansion.Last week, Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers criticised the proposed ULEZ expansion.

She said: “I agree that we need to tackle pollution in London, but further expansion of the ULEZ is not the right way to do this.” She said: “I agree that we need to tackle pollution in London, but further expansion of the ULEZ is not the right way to do this.”

She added: “Small businesses reliant on van transport will be especially badly hit... For businesses transporting goods and equipment, public transport simply is not a viable option.She added: “Small businesses reliant on van transport will be especially badly hit... For businesses transporting goods and equipment, public transport simply is not a viable option.

“The people who will be most negatively affected by the mayor’s plans are those who can ill afford to either replace their vehicles or pay an additional £12.50 per day to drive into London."“The people who will be most negatively affected by the mayor’s plans are those who can ill afford to either replace their vehicles or pay an additional £12.50 per day to drive into London."

As an alternative approach, the MP called for the introduction of ultra-low emission buses and a targeted approach to London's pollution hot spots. As an alternative approach, the MP called for the introduction of ultra-low emission buses and a targeted approach to London's pollution hot spots.

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