Sadiq Khan defiant against anti-Ulez campaigners as he declares: 'I believe in democracy'

20 June 2024, 21:46 | Updated: 21 June 2024, 11:41

Sadiq Khan has hit out at anti-ULEZ campaigners who heckled him
Sadiq Khan has hit out at anti-ULEZ campaigners who heckled him. Picture: Alamy
Fraser Knight

By Fraser Knight

Sadiq Khan has hit out at anti-Ulez campaigners who heckled him during the annual State of London Debate, in East London.

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The mayor took 90 minutes of questions from a live audience at Indigo at the O2 on topics including housing, crime, the cost of living and transport.

Tensions ran high as the capital’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone was raised, with several people heckling Mr Khan, calling him “a liar”, saying he was “destroying businesses and lives” and demanding the data be published around his claim it was cleaning up the air.

Ulez was expanded London-wide in August 2023, charging people with older, more polluting vehicles £12.50 a day, or the option to scrap them for a less polluting model.

One man was ordered to leave the venue as he continued to challenge Sadiq Khan on the scheme, giving two fingers as he walked out.

He complained that he kept getting “bombarded” with charges, every time he changed his number plates.

“I like to change them,” he said.

Read more: 'It was about taxing motorists': Transport Sec hits out at Sadiq Khan over Ulez expansion as Tories vow to scrap it

Read more: Sadiq Khan thanks Londoners and tells LBC listeners to expect a 'transformed city' under Labour government

While another asked him if the climate emergency was over since the “propaganda” he’d seen on TV before the Ulez expansion had ceased.

But the Mayor, who was re-elected for a third term at City Hall in May, stood defiant as he told the audience: “During the election, the Tories and even Reform, the number one issue for them was Ulez.

“They wanted it to be a referendum on Ulez and I’ll say this: Londoners gave me a record breaking, history-making victory.

“You either believe in democracy, or don’t. This great country believes in democracy. I’m not sure about you.”

He added: “95% of vehicles are now compliant, don’t pay a penny but see the benefits of cleaner air.”

Sadiq Khan was also questioned on the scourge of machetes on London’s streets, by one man who told him “I don’t feel safe in the city I love” to which the mayor said: "Home Secretaries have talked about banning them, I hope the next government will."

And on housing, he declared that “much more” affordable housing needed to be built, to avoid spiralling costs driving people out of the capital.

One police officer also took Mr Khan’s deputy mayor to task on accountability for officers, revealing he’d been sanctioned for asking a question at the same event two years ago, about the disproportionate way that Black officers are treated in the misconduct system.

He asked the same question again, admitting he “probably will” be served with another misconduct notice for doing so.

You can watch the full State of London debate back here.

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