Nick Ferrari 7am - 10am
Sadiq Khan denies Ulez is a cash grab as it expands to cover all of London and furious protesters descend on No10
29 August 2023, 12:11 | Updated: 29 August 2023, 14:42
Sadiq Khan has denied Ulez is a cash grab, insisting its expansion is vital to reduce air pollution in London.
Listen to this article
Furious protesters descended on Downing Street - though the government insists it cannot intervene - to vent their fury at the policy.
Khan has ploughed on with it despite intense opposition, including from within his own party.
Earlier, LBC was told by transport secretary Mark Harper that the environmental charge's expansion was effectively a stealth tax, attacking "hard-pressed Londoners".
Khan has now hit back at Mark Harper, telling LBC's James O'Brien: "It was possible for me to do a cash grab, had I acceded to the demand from Grant Shapps... [when he was transport secretary] which was to expand the congestion charge to raise revenues for TfL.
"I said no to that, because that would have been a cash grab. I also said no when they demanded of me that I immediately expand the Ulez before we had a scrappage scheme, before we had a consultation.
"The only reason we're expanding Ulez is because it's been shown to improve the quality of air."
Drivers will need to pay a daily £12.50 charge to drive their vehicles if they aren't compliant with Ulez.
Tuesday's expansion began with Transport for London's number plate checker website, which allows drivers to see if their car is compliant with Ulez, crashing on Tuesday morning.
A camera in Bromley, south London, was covered with red paint in a protest - after months of anti-Ulez activists vandalising the devices which scan the plates of cars.
And councils outside London refuse to put up Ulez signs in opposition to the scheme.
"I don't have the powers to block it, this is a decision for the Mayor of London," he told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.
“[Mr Khan] says he's doing air quality reasons but if you look at his own impact assessment, it makes it clear it will only have a minor to negligible effect on air quality.
"It's not about air quality, it's about raising money from hard-pressed Londoners and that is why we don't support it. But we don't have the power to block it."
Ulez has even triggered a fight within Labour, as Sir Keir Starmer warned against imposing environmental policies that hit the worst-off in the wake of a by-election defeat to the Tories.
Rishi Sunak's party managed to cling onto Boris Johnson's old seat of Uxbridge and Ruislip despite a nationwide swing away from the Conservatives after they turned that campaign into a referendum on Ulez.
And on Tuesday, Labour's shadow minister for employment rights said it would be an "expense too many" given the cost of living crisis.
"I think he probably needs to be listening to some of the callers you've been having on and how it's affecting them, and think about whether this really is the right time to be going ahead with it," Justin Madders told LBC.
Khan has earmarked tens of millions to help expand a scrappage scheme that will allow Londoners, charities and businesses to put money towards a new car if theirs isn't compliant.
The mayor's office said: "There have already been more than 15,000 applications received since 21 August, and nearly £6m of new funds committed to Londoners. The number of scrappage applications for cars and motorcycles since 21 August is up more than 1,000 per cent on the previous week."
More than 14,000 applications have been approved as £60m was committed to help scrappages.
Caller: ULEZ expansion will kill London's economy
Everyone in the capital whose car does not meet emissions standards will be eligible for a £2,000 grant from August 21.
Small businesses and sole traders will be able to claim up to £21,000 to scrap as many as three vans and get them replaced.
Charities can get up to £27,000 to scrap three minibuses as City Hall hailed "the most generous scrappage scheme ever seen in the UK".
But opposition has proved to be very heavy, with self-described "blade runners" going as far as out ripping down cameras.
On Tuesday, as the expansion kicked in, one device in Bromley was daubed in red paint while a sign was defaced.
Neighbouring Tory councils have refused to allow Ulez signs to be put up in their areas.
Cameras have even needed to be armoured up to stop them being damaged.
A total of 288 crimes related to Ulez cameras have been recorded by the Met, including 185 instances of cables being damaged, 164 cameras being stolen and 38 reports of the devices getting obscured.