Dogs on the Streets and the ULEZ

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 10th February 2022.

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Photo of Neil Garratt Neil Garratt Conservative

When you agreed at December’s Mayoral Questions to a meeting between your Deputy Mayor and Dogs on the Streets, were you intending to offer them a solution to their ULEZ problem?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is helping to clean up London’s toxic air. In the first month of the operation of the extension, compliance with the emission standards and the expanded zone was as high as 92%, with around 47,000 fewer older, more polluting vehicles seen each day on average. Since 2017, more than four and a half years ago, there has been a wide-reaching awareness-raising campaign to ensure drivers were ready for the ULEZ and its expansion. Over one million letters were sent to owners of non-compliant vehicles seen inside the zone ahead of expansion last year, with TfL’s Online Vehicle Checker being used more than 20 million times.

I am very grateful for the vital work all charities play in our communities, and I applaud the work of Dogs on the Streets in supporting rough sleepers by helping care for the pets that provide them emotional support and companionship. I am aware that Dogs on the Streets has raised issues with the expanded ULEZ, and TfL has been in regular contact with the charity to help them identify the best option for them. Most recently, my Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, and senior TfL officers met with them in December [2021] to discuss this matter and reiterate our previous offer of support. The charity’s vehicles are light goods vehicles for which there is no exemption. However, TfL did offer funding from our successful scrappage scheme when it was open to all eligible charities operating non-compliant vehicles. TfL officers also proposed retrofit solutions and offered support to the charity while they arranged for the vehicles to be retrofitted. People who have booked a retrofit can benefit from a generous grace period from ULEZ charges to allow time to complete the retrofit. Unfortunately, Dogs on the Streets has said it does not wish to take these options, despite offers from officers to help source funding that may contribute to the costs of retrofit or replacement vehicles.

Many excellent charities have taken up offers from TfL and found ways to comply with the ULEZ, and I am sorry that a resolution has not been agreed with Dogs on the Streets. It is vital, however, that we continue to clean up London’s filthy air to protect the health of all Londoners, including rough sleepers who are twice as likely to suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma and 20 times more likely to suffer from tuberculosis. TfL remains open to working with Dogs on the Streets to support its transition to cleaner, less polluting vehicles so it can continue to deliver its valuable services.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Thank you, Mr Mayor. For anybody who is not aware of how wonderful this particular charity is - you did say last time they did brilliant work - they not only help homeless people, they also support victims of domestic violence and look after dogs when someone is arrested or sectioned. You agreed to the meeting at the last Mayor’s Question Time (MQT), I think it was, Mr Mayor, and I think they assumed that that would be of some help, but at the meeting we have been told that they were offered nothing. They would love to upgrade their vans to be compliant, but it is just too expensive. They are, in effect, stuck like a pincer between one-off costs of upgrading and the constant daily charge, and some charities literally live hand to mouth, as you well know. If you go on the website, the scrappage schemes are empty; there is no money there. Could you perhaps offer them a temporary two-year exemption, as you have already given to charities with minibuses? Funding support would be much appreciated because they do an awful lot of work for the police, LAS, domestic violence shelters, and so on.  Do you not agree that it is a false economy and would be shocking if, for the sake of small sums, this brilliant charity - brilliant and you have accepted that it is very good - folded? The knock-on costs of other services would be far greater, I would suggest. This is not what the ULEZ was intended to do. Can you think of any other support that City Hall could properly offer them?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I have placed on record my thanks to this excellent charity, and there are many other excellent charities who have made the transition to compliant vehicles and taken advantage of some of the schemes that we have. In the meeting the Deputy Mayor [for Environment and Energy] and TfL had with the charity in December [2021] as a consequence of the last MQT, these schemes were put to the charity, which declined those schemes. You will be aware, in addition to this brilliant charity working with rough sleepers, there are many other brilliant charities working with rough sleepers, working with animals, and working with young people, which also had polluting vehicles and have made their vehicles compliant as a consequence of either the scrappage scheme or the generosity of the public. There are those schemes and we have talked about TfL officers and the Deputy Mayor being more than happy to discuss these with the charity. My understanding is the charity has said “No” to offers of help on those schemes. In relation to the minibus point, which is different to the vehicles used by Dogs on the Streets, I think the reason why the exemption applied to the charity minibuses was because of the lack of alternatives. In this particular case, there are cheaper alternatives, which TfL can advise the charity on if they are not aware, which can give them a solution. That means it would be able to both continue to provide the fantastic service that it is providing at the same time as being ULEZ-compliant.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Yes. Of course, these are warm words, but they do not help Dogs on the Streets. We have been telling you for months and months that more money needs to be put into these scrappage schemes, not only for Dogs on the Streets. There are so many people out there that simply cannot afford to replace their vehicles. The scrappage schemes have no more money left in them. We have shown you where you can take the money to put into those scrappage schemes to help poorer Londoners and to help some of these fantastic charities, but you just go deaf at that point. Will you not look at ways that you can put more money into the scrappage schemes to help people like those that run Dogs on the Streets and also for poor people that just simply cannot afford to replace their vehicles?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Well, the scrappage scheme was offered to this charity, which has declined it so more money in the scrappage scheme would have made no difference for this particular charity. We ourselves, TfL, and City Hall, found £61 million for our scrappage scheme with zero assistance from the Government. What we said to the Government is if they gave us more - if they gave us any money - towards a scrappage scheme, towards exemptions or discounts, we could be helping the sort of people you claim to be wanting to help. I would remind you that other cities have got assistance from the Government, ranging from Birmingham to Portsmouth, Bath to Manchester. We have not. We will continue to try to get more assistance for London so we can be helping small businesses, charities and families who could do with some financial assistance in making that transition.

I would also make the point, which is a really important point, that poor air quality causes the most problems to those Londoners least likely to own a vehicle. Almost half of Londoners do not own a car. In the expanded area, more than six out of ten Londoners do not own a car and it is they who suffer the worst consequences of the toxic air in our city.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Yes. Do you know, I really thought we were going to get through one question without you blaming the Government or saying the Government needs to give you more money. It is quite shocking, Mr Mayor, you not answering half my colleagues. You need to be answering questions. All of these questions are put to you on things that you are responsible for, you never take responsibility for anything and it is about time you did. Will you be prepared to give Dogs on the Streets an exemption from paying the ULEZ? Yes or no?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Let me deal with the first part of that question --

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

No. Here we go. “The Government” again, no doubt.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

-- which is we are the most centralised democracy in the Western world, and I will not apologise for trying to get more powers and resources for our city. I would remind you that because of our lobbying, for example, the Government devolved a further £320 million towards adult education. As a result of the lobbying - Anne Clarke [AM] referred to this in relation to the Government around cladding - we managed to persuade the Government to an initial £27 million but also persuade the Government to follow our idea of getting developers to pay for cladding remediation. I can give other examples where we have persuaded the Government to partially refund the police officers that we lost. 20,000 replaced 21,000, but it is 20,000 we otherwise would not have but for our lobbying. Similarly, in relation to air quality, we are going to continue to lobby the Government in relation to the monies we need --

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Thank you, Mr Mayor.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

-- to get to zero carbon. The Government agrees with our ends, which is zero carbon. We need to lobby them to get to the means --

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

-- which is more support, more powers and more funding.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

-- Mr Mayor, lobbying is one thing; going on like a demented parrot is not. All you ever do is go on about the Government. I have finished now because he is not answering my question.