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Tory mayoral hopeful pledges in-out votes on ULEZ zone for London boroughs
9 April 2023, 18:40 | Updated: 10 April 2023, 01:13
Londoners in the city's outer boroughs could be given the opportunity to decide whether to remain in Sadiq Khan's green Ulez vehicle tax zone if the Conservatives win power in the capital.
Samuel Kasumu, 35, who is vying to be the Tory candidate at the next mayoral election, has pledged to give outer boroughs the chance to vote on whether to stay in the scheme.
Mr Khan is planning to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone to all 32 of the city's boroughs in August, a move which will see drivers of older and more polluting vehicles paying a £12.50 daily charge to travel within its reach.
The scheme is designed to clear up the city's air and reduce pollution, but the widening has been fiercely opposed by some Tory and Lib Dem boroughs, who have urged Mr Khan to push back the expansion so that residents have more time to upgrade their vehicles.
Mr Kazumu, a former advisor to Boris Johnson has said the issue will be a "key battleground" in the mayoral race next year.
Speaking to the Telegraph, he said: "You've got to do things in a responsible manner, and you have to be able to take people with you. You can't just impose your will on folks who don't want it...
"I will promise within the first 12 months to have a local referendum for every outer London borough so they can be empowered with the choice about how they respond to what Sadiq has done."
Mr Kasumu stressed that he is "equally as passionate" about environmental issues as Mr Khan, but said he opposed the expansion because things should be done "in a responsible manner".
"You can’t just impose your will on folks who don’t want it,” he said.
But taking power back from Labour in the capital will be a tough task, with new polling suggesting that Labour have far greater support in London.
In a YouGov poll last week just 18 percent of adults in London said they would vote Conservative, 40 points behind Labour, representing the party's biggest lead since the market research film started tracking London voting intention in 2010.
Mr Kasumu stepped down from his role as special adviser on civil society to then Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2021, when a Government-backed review concluded that the UK is no longer a country in which the "system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities".
He later said he feared some Tory colleagues thought the right way to win the next election is to "exploit division" and "pick a fight on the culture war", warning that it could have dire consequences for the country.
Mr Kasumu is currently a councillor on Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Hertfordshire.