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ULEZ success

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Leonie Cooper Leonie Cooper Labour

What would have been the impact on Londoners’ health if the ULEZ was brought in as originally planned in 2020?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Chair, can I say that this is a really important question. Had we taken the advice of the Conservatives, the ULEZ would not have been introduced in April 2019 and the huge progress we have made would not have been seen. We have seen, since the ULEZ has been introduced, a reduction of the nitrogen dioxide and NOx by a third. We have seen a reduction of particulate matters by 13%. We have also seen huge progress made cleaning the air across our city.

It is worth reminding ourselves why it is so important. The bad‑quality air in London is responsible for thousands of premature deaths. It is responsible for children having stunted lungs, permanently stunted, but also for adults suffering from a whole host of health issues, from asthma to dementia to cancer. Because of our bold policies, action has been taken to address that. We have also taken policies to clean up the taxi fleet and the bus fleet as well. Had we accepted the Conservative plans for the budget we would not have been able to do so. We have made huge progress in relation to that, but the big gamechanger is also going to come when we roll these out to the North Circular and South Circular from next year and this year for other vehicles like coaches and buses in the rest of London, which will see big progress being made.

It is really important that Londoners appreciate that now, when you look at the Royal Society of Public Health, when they talk about the biggest achievements of the 21st century, the ULEZ is ranked seventh. That demonstrates the difference a Labour Mayor can make and yet another reason why you must not vote for the Conservatives on 7 May this year.

Photo of Leonie Cooper Leonie Cooper Labour

As you know, Mr Mayor, I pressed you to bring it even further forward to January 2019 so I was a very strong supporter of the initiative to move it forward, but obviously, as you have said, we sat in this very Chamber and listened to the Conservative Group pressing very hard for it to only be implemented in October 2020, as was originally announced in 2015. I just want to be absolutely crystal clear there is no chance at all that you are going to listen to those people who say that expanding the ULEZ should not occur. You are definitely going ahead with expanding ULEZ in October 2020?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

The problem is that I was handed a blank sheet of paper. There were no details, no planned workings. No calculations were made, no work done. We started from scratch, basically. That is why it is quite remarkable that we have gone from a standing still position to what we achieved in April 2019 and the progress we have made.

I have asked the question, “Can we go even faster?” and the answer is no. It is a very complex scheme. It is the world’s first. There are multiple delivery strands, including changes to back‑end systems and new infrastructure, working with the boroughs. There is a consultation we have undertaken. Also, we have to be reasonable, especially to low‑income families, to charities, small businesses and those who have to change their fleet, for them to be ready as well. We simply cannot do it any faster. You will see over the next 100 days some people claiming it can be faster. It cannot be. The only way it can be done for 2020 for bigger vehicles and for other vehicles in October 2021 is by voting Labour on 7 May this year. It is a two‑horse race between me and the Conservatives who are against us. That is why it is important to vote Labour on 7 May.

Photo of Leonie Cooper Leonie Cooper Labour

Mr Mayor, I am sure you are regularly pressed, as I am, by groups who would like it to be expanded more quickly, and I understand the points that you are making about the need to implement in a thorough way.

Photo of Andrew Boff Andrew Boff Conservative

On a Standing Order, Chair.

Photo of Leonie Cooper Leonie Cooper Labour

As part of the ‑‑

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Can she finish, out of respect for your colleague, or not?

Photo of Leonie Cooper Leonie Cooper Labour

As part of the implementation of the ULEZ you also introduced the ULEZ Support Scheme, which set aside £23 million to be accessed by mainly small businesses but also some charities. Now, there has been much spoken. In fact, Assembly Member [David] Kurten at the very beginning of today was talking about the devastating impact on businesses. I am slightly disappointed that so far, so little of that £23 million has been accessed by those small businesses and charities. What more can we do to make sure that they are accessing it when they need it?

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

OK. Before you answer, Mr Mayor, there is a point of order. Will the Member rise and tell me which bit of the Standing Order he wants to raise?

Photo of Andrew Boff Andrew Boff Conservative

I have not a clue, Chair, but what I do know is that one of the principles of this Chamber is we do not use it for blatant electioneering. If you are not going to challenge the Mayor on his encouragement of people to vote for a particular party then you can be absolutely assured that we will spend our time on the Assembly between now and May saying, “Vote Conservative”.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Which candidate are you backing on 7 May?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I bet some of you are voting for me as well.

Photo of Andrew Boff Andrew Boff Conservative

It is up to you, Chair, how you want to carry on this Assembly business.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Thank you. It is up to me. The Standing Order, which was incomplete, has been noted. Can I have an answer to the question that has just been put to the Mayor from Assembly Member Cooper?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Chair, one of the things that we have been doing is to engage with businesses ‑‑

Photo of Andrew Boff Andrew Boff Conservative

On a point of order, Chair, I did not want it to be noted, I wanted it to be responded to, and that means either challenge the Mayor for what he has said now or write to me with what your decision is going to be. I do not just want it noted.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

I will write to you that I have noted your Standing Order.

Photo of Andrew Boff Andrew Boff Conservative

In which case that is not acceptable, Chair. In which case this Group can feel it is perfectly free to go electioneering through the processes of this Assembly. On every Committee meeting, on every scrutiny meeting, we can tell everyone to vote Conservative without any degree of challenge whatsoever from yourselves. Thank you for your support in telling us to go and tell people to vote Conservative.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Excuse me, can I just finish with this Member? I can only say again to you, Assembly Member Boff, I am happy to put in writing my response to your incomplete point of order and you will get that in writing. Is this a point of order from you, Assembly Member Kurten?

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

Chair, I just wondered if you could bring to a close this ‘Sadiq Khan/vote Conservative’ conversation because you never know, there might be other people in the Assembly who have not declared yet.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Sorry, I did not hear what you said. Can you stand up again?

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

There may be other people in the Assembly who have not declared themselves yet, who may be affected by this ‘vote Labour/vote Conservative’ conversation. I think we should draw that to a close.

Photo of Tony Devenish Tony Devenish Conservative

You could join us, David.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Excuse me, Members. What I can tell Members is I raised this question with officers yesterday and the Assembly and the GLA have not been notified of any candidates for a forthcoming election. Until that happens ‑‑

Photo of Andrew Boff Andrew Boff Conservative

I think there is going to be a Conservative candidate.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Until that happens, let us get on with our business. Can I have an answer, in the remaining minute, to the Labour question in front of you, Mr Mayor?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Chair, just as in ‑‑

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

And please, no more electioneering.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Just as in May 2016, there will be Conservatives voting for me ‑‑

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

I am not interested. We do not care. We do not care. You have just stepped over the line, have you not?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I have been trying my best for the last five minutes, to be fair.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

You have just stepped over the line and wasted the Labour Member’s time because it is clear you do not have an answer to the question.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

We still have a minute, Chair. We still have one minute and 11 seconds to answer the Labour question, and the answer is that we have shown over the last few years that we are an administration that is pro‑business, which means we engage with businesses and listen to their concerns. Assembly Member Cooper is somebody who has been a passionate advocate for fixing the air in London and also speaks to businesses, and one of the things about businesses is they often suffer the consequences of the poor‑quality air, their drivers suffering the consequences, but also their families who live in London as well.

One of the things that we have done is to engage with not just the Federation of Small Businesses but the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) and London First to understand their concerns. That is one of the reasons why we are now looking into how the scrappage scheme could help not just the businesses but also low‑income families as well. We will be announcing some changes in due course because we understand that it is important that this support reaches those who need it the most.

What I would do is ask colleagues in this Chamber to please lobby the Government ‑ it is a Conservative Government ‑ who have failed to give any support to our ULEZ, have refused to invest in a national diesel scrappage scheme and who are in breach of legislation to deal with the poor quality air, another reason, Chair, to vote for Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate, on 7 May.