Ulez protestor disrupts debate at City Hall

Security escorted angry lorry driver out of meeting about cost-of-living crisis, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Angie Donnelly (credit Noah Vickers-LDRS)
Lorry driver Angie Donnelly (credit Noah Vickers/LDRS)

An angry lorry driver was escorted from City Hall today (Thursday) after challenging London mayor Sadiq Khan on his plan to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez).

At the same event, money saving expert Martin Lewis appeared to raise concerns over the timing of the plan.

Martin was speaking to the mayor at a Q&A session about how Londoners can navigate the cost of living crisis – but Khan faced heckling about Ulez from audience member Angie Donnelly.

Angie, a 58-year-old lorry driver from Dagenham, could be heard shouting: “You’ve got people struggling down in Essex, that can’t feed their kids…

“You should put the Ulez in Essex on hold. Let people get back on their feet, let people get a life, let people get over the pandemic.”

The mayor wants to expand Ulez across all 32 London boroughs, including those such as Barking and Dagenham which were previously part of Essex, on 29th August. The aim is to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions.

It means the whole of Enfield will be covered by Ulez for the first time. At present, the zone boundary is the North Circular Road. An additional 200,000 drivers a day – who mainly drive older, more polluting vehicles – will have to pay the £12.50 daily levy.

But Angie said people in her area “won’t be able to deal with the stress” of the daily charge.

Just before she shouted out, Martin Lewis had questioned the plan himself. The ‘money saving expert’ said: “If I may be honest, while the reasons behind that are good, the timing is pretty tough, to do it this year, amidst the cost of living crisis.”

Martin said the people affected by the plan would “tend to be not the wealthiest” and added: “The timing’s quite tough, isn’t it?”

Khan said he had this week launched a £110m scrappage scheme to help people replace their high-polluting vehicles, and that he was continuing to lobby the government for more funding. “What is the right number of people to die, to make it acceptable [to expand Ulez]?” he asked.

He later responded to Angie: “Can I be quite clear – I’m very sorry for the stress on you. [But] I’m not going to apologise for cleaning the air in London.”

The protestor questioned the accuracy of claims about the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution locally before eventually being approached by security and escorted out.

Speaking outside, Angie said she would not be affected by Ulez expansion herself, but she was concerned about other people. “If you go on Facebook, where I live, you can see people are upset about this,” she said.

“They’re not earning the money. My wages aren’t great, but I survive. And the cost-of-living crisis is going to send people into a financial stoop, so why should they suffer because one man wants to make a decision [to expand Ulez].”

Speaking after the event, Khan said: “I fully understand people’s concerns.

“We’ve got to do a better job clearly letting people know about the record-breaking scrappage scheme and I appreciate people aren’t happy – that’s why we’re lobbying the government for more support.”

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