ULEZ costing London tradespeople hundreds as Sadiq Khan faces court
London tradespeople have pleaded for Sadiq Khan to cancel the controversial ULEZ expansion as they warn their businesses are already being impacted by the plans.
A plumber has told Express.co.uk of his nightmare trying to secure clients and stay afloat as his work becomes increasingly less profitable due to the combination of the ULEZ and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, as over one-in-five tradespeople say they can no longer afford to drive into the capital.
The plea comes after a High Court challenge by five Conservative-led councils against the London Mayor’s plan to expand the zone was heard by a judge last week.
Danny Madden, a plumber in south-east London, told Express.co.uk that the ULEZ expansion had already impacted his business – particularly when combined with the cost-of-living crisis and the capital’s congestion charge.
He said: “It definitely has affected me and my business, I think the worst price that I’ve had to pay is for a new vehicle.
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“Not only is there a global shortage of new vehicles, there is a global shortage of vans – van prices continue to rise and it becomes so expensive, I had to buy a new van because of the expansion of the ULEZ area.”
The Ultra Low Emission Zone, initially announced by former London mayor Boris Johnson in 2015, refers to an area in the capital where a daily £12.50 charge is enforced for anyone driving a vehicle that does comply with environmental standards.
Mr Khan brought the ULEZ into effect on April 8 2019, and while many have lauded the effort to reduce pollution in the capital, others have slammed it for adding an additional cost for thousands of Londoners who cannot easily transition to a more eco-friendly vehicle.
The mayor has now faced a High Court challenge over his plans to expand the zone across all London boroughs on August 29 2023.
Of particular concern to tradespeople working in the city is the combination of the ULEZ with existing costs such as the congestion charge and soaring inflation.
According to research done by FixRadio, motoring charges are forcing builders, plumbers and electricians in London to spend £70 on average before they have even walked through the door, and a total of £140 a day including operating costs.
With their average day rate for a tradesperson in the city reaching £150, this figure means that across the year, the combination of these costs is taking 21 workdays’ pay away from these struggling Brits.
Mr Madden said he already never worked in the congestion charge areas of the city “unless I really have to” as “the extra charges just put you off any jobs in that area.”
The cost of living crisis is heating competition, the plumber said – with clients “penny-pinching” to save their own money, all while tradespeople battle to secure customers that don’t require heading through the ULEZ zone or the congestion charge area.
Mr Madden said those in similar businesses were “undercutting each other to get the jobs” due to clients becoming “less and less profitable”.
“I am starting to notice that I need to get those extra jobs in – the timing of the ULEZ expansion is awful,” he added, “you have so many obstacles to deal with and it’s adding extra stress.
“They should be looking at it and thinking it’s not a good time to introduce this – it affects so many tradespeople. Your current van is worthless and you have to sell it to someone outside the M25, so you’re not going to get what it’s worth.”
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A £110million scrappage scheme has been launched to help fund the purchase of new vehicles that are ULEZ-compliant, granting provisions of £5,000 to £9,000 to those in businesses of 10 employees and under.
But tradespeople say this is insufficient, given that the EV equivalent of Britain’s best-selling van, the Ford Transit, starts at £48,000 for its most basic model.
FixRadio’s research found that 25 percent of London tradespeople say they have had to increase their prices in the last year due to increasing transport costs and have lost work as a result, while 23 percent said the ULEZ has had a detrimental impact on their business.
In a recent court hearing, Mr Khan’s legal team defended the expansion against a challenge from five Conservative councils in the capital.
Key allegations included that people did not have the time or resources to make “intelligent responses” during last year’s 10-week consultation process, due to the difficulty in finding important information.
Craig Howell Williams, acting for the councils, said you had to be a detective, pouring over sentences and moving from document to document, to get anywhere. This was not easy to understand for the average member of the public, let alone council experts, he said.
However, the mayor’s team argued that more than adequate information was available to anyone who asked.
Judge Mr Justice Swift said he would do his best to get a judgement done and delivered by the legal “end of term” which is July 31.
Mr Madden concluded: “It should go ahead if it’s for the right reasons, fair enough if you are looking to better the pollution, but if it’s a money-making tax then I think it’s ridiculous and should not be going ahead.”
Mr Khan has been contacted for comment.
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