Issue - decisions

Opposition Priority Business

02/08/2018 - Opposition Priority Business - "The expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone to the North and South Circulars"

Councillor Laban introduced the issues paper, prepared by the Opposition Group.


1.              Issues highlighted by Councillor Laban were as follows: 


·       Whilst supporting the introduction of the Ultra-Low Admission Zone (ULEZ), as originally proposed by Boris Johnson, when Mayor of London, to improve London’s air quality, she could not support the current Mayor, Sadiq Khan’s, proposal to extend the zone beyond the Central London Congestion Zone to the North and South Circular Roads. 

·       She felt that the consequences of expansion had not been fully debated and the extension would have a detrimental impact on small businesses and local people living on the boundaries.  People with vehicles that were not ULEZ compliant will be charged £12.50 to enter the zone. She felt that this would have a disproportionate effect on small businesses and people on low incomes who could not afford to upgrade their vehicles. 

·       Residents living the Central London Congestion Zone had been allowed a sunset clause allowing them time to make the changes but this had not been extended to those living within the M25. 

·       People visiting North Middlesex Hospital and local schools would have to pay the charge, every time they entered the zone, dividing communities. 

·       The impact on small businesses could cause them to become financially unviable which could result in the closure of businesses and the loss of jobs.  Local businesses were she thought the lifeblood of the community. 

·       The North Circular itself was not in the zone which would mean that vehicles which were not compliant would be more likely to use it, adding to the pollution in the area. 

·       Many other outer London boroughs were concerned about the impact and felt that the zone could increase congestion and pollution in surrounding roads. 

·       It was not fair in her opinion that those in central London should be offered a sunset clause, whilst those in Enfield would have to pay on as soon as the zone was introduced. 


2.              Councillor Nesil Caliskan, Leader of the Council, responded on behalf of the Majority Group highlighting:


·     Air pollution in London was consistently breaching legal limits.  In recent times the Government had lost several challenges through failing to do something about harmful nitrogen oxide emissions. 

·     Public health advice was that improving air quality would improve health.  Most recent reports show that each car costs the NHS £8,000 due to the effects of air pollution.  She felt that a look needed to be taken at the long term savings that can be achieved by improving health and also reducing the number of deaths due to pollution.  Air pollution can cause lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases and dementia.  Air quality in many schools breaches legal limits.  In Enfield 350 deaths can be linked to poor air.  This disproportionally affects children and people living in poorer communities.

·     The introduction of the ULEZ would reduce air pollution and improve health outcomes.  It would be an even greater improvement if the zone was extended to the M25 and she felt that the Opposition should support the administration in lobbying for this.  The administration supported the increased priority and profile that the Mayor has given to tackling air pollution but also agreed with the London Council position that the current proposals were not ideal as they could divide communities.. 

·     There was no evidence for the claim that the zone would increase traffic on the North Circular and local roads and add to pollution.  Even so she did recognise this could be a potential risk but was aware that the Mayor of London was committed to review the policy and closely monitor any impact. 

·     The Leader wanted the Council to be able to provide support for low income families and small businesses to  upgrade their vehicles, had asked officers to research how to do this and to work with Transport for London to provide more rapid electrical charging points and improve local public transport.  She felt that the Opposition would have more credibility if they were to join with the administration to lobby the Government to bring in a diesel vehicle scrappage scheme which she thought would show a more convincing concern for improving air quality for poorer residents of the borough. 

·     The Opposition should also support the Labour administration in bringing forward options to help mitigate the impact for people visiting North Middlesex Hospital.  There was time enough to adjust the scheme before it was implemented in 2021. 


3.              Other issues highlighted during the debate were as follows:


a.              The need highlighted by the members of the Opposition Group:


·       To acknowledge that the charges would have the most impact on people on low incomes and with health problems which was felt to be unfair. 


·       Whilst acknowledging the urgent need to tackle emissions, implementing the ULEZ was not felt to be the best way to improve air quality.  An integrated industrial strategy was needed with a plan to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions. 


·       To recognise that the Government had already agreed to phase out diesel cars by 2040, had set aside £36 billion to improve air quality, was looking at promoting the move from petrol to electric vehicles and improving the electrical charging point infrastructure.  


·       To accept that the Opposition was supportive of a diesel vehicle scrappage scheme


·       To recognise the need to update the Council’s Air Quality Plan which was focussed reducing car use and increasing cycling and walking.  However there were concerns that not enough people were using the cycle lanes. 


·       To accept the view that the Mayor should be looking to retrofit all public transport to use cleaner fuels. 


·       To recognise that not including the North and South Circulars in the scheme would make pollution in those areas worse. 


·       To acknowledge that charging vehicles to enter the zone was just a money making scheme. 


·       To recognise that the scheme would not have the intended affect and would increase pollution, increase rat running and that parents walking their children to school in the area would in fact be subject to more pollution.


·       Many people were unaware of the scheme and there was a need to ensure that they were made aware. 


·       Concern about the loss of electric charging points in the Genotin Road Car Park. 


b.              The need highlighted by members of the Majority Group:


·       To acknowledge that bad air was killing residents and was responsible for 350 premature deaths in Enfield.  The health arguments in support of the scheme were thought to be indisputable. 


·       To support the Mayor in his efforts to improve air quality and to campaign with the majority group to bring forward the implementation date, extend the zone to the M25, to encourage people to move to cleaner vehicles and use more sustainable means of transport, such as cycling and walking. 


·       That the scheme would reduce pollution by at least 4% and up to 27% in some areas. 


·       To acknowledge that Enfield had lost £700m worth of grants from Central Government. 


·       The need to reduce over reliance on the car, to make people aware that people were exposed to more pollution when travelling by car, that the population was increasing and it was essential that we encourage more people to walk and cycle. Even electric cars still required polluting power. 


·       The Government had dragged its feet for 3 years on air quality, despite challenges from the European Union, any change would be too late for those who have died from conditions exacerbated by poor air.  The cost to the NHS was billions. 


·       If we leave the European Union it was important to ensure that we stick to the same high standards of the rest of Europe. 


During the debate Councillor Erbil moved and Councillor Anderson seconded a proposal under para 9.2 to increase the time allowed for Opposition Business by 15 minutes.  This was agreed without a vote. 


4.              At the end of the debate Councillor Laban summed up on behalf of the Opposition Group as follows: 


She did not agree with the ULEZ proposals and would, with her shadow cabinet colleagues, write to the Mayor to ask him to reconsider the proposals in the light of the impact on people visiting the North Middlesex Hospital.  She was also concerned that people skirting round the ULEZ boundaries would increase pollution in those areas.  She felt that people ought to be made aware of what the impact of the scheme would be on small businesses and people on low incomes in Enfield.  She felt that a sunset clause was necessary and that to charge people £12.50 to go to hospital was barbaric.


5.              Councillor Caliskan, Leader of the Council, then summed up on behalf of the majority group responding to the recommendations in the Opposition Priority Business Paper as follows:


·       That the electric charging points currently situated in the Genotin Road Car Park would be moved to another location. 


·       She could not support recommendation 2.1, because she was not opposed to the expansion of the scheme, but rather thought the zone should be extended to cover the M25.  The Labour Council had put on record that they welcomed the initiative to clean up the air and called on the Opposition to join the administration in urging the Mayor of London to extend the ULEZ to the M25. 


·       She was happy to agree to recommendation 2.2 for the Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care and the Shadow Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care to meet with the Chief Executive of North Middlesex Hospital to discuss potential mitigation measures so that residents whose cars were non-compliant would not be charged £12.50 to access health care.  Cabinet members and senior officers already meet regularly with the North Middlesex Chief Executive and they would continue to work with all stakeholders to find a solution for the issue. 


·       In relation to recommendation 2.3 she was happy for the Council to work with Transport for London in delivering their stakeholder engagement plan to highlight the ULEZ policy.  Transport for London have already undertaken a Londonwide consultation and will be undertaking significant publicity campaigns ahead of each phase. 


·       In relation to recommendation 2.4 she felt that it would be disastrous to reverse the Mayor’s decision as this would have a severe impact on the health of many Enfield residents and therefore could not be acceptable.  Rather than a sunset clause, she felt that the Opposition should support the administration in lobbying the government for targeted assistance to vehicle owners (a scrappage scheme).


·       She understood in relation to recommendation 2.5 that SourceLondon could not provide the necessary technology to introduce more rapid charging points as they only do slow recharging parts and that more research was required on this issue.  The Council was already working with Transport for London to identify new sites and deliver new electric vehicle rapid charging points.


There was no vote on the Leader’s response.