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Proposed doubling of scrappage scheme voted down at City Hall

A proposal from Sadiq Khan to double the size of his ultra low emission zone (Ulez) scrappage scheme to £220 million has been rejected by Labour politicians at City Hall.

By Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

A car produces a huge amount of exhaust fumes
Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

A proposal for Sadiq Khan to double the size of his ultra low emission zone (Ulez) scrappage scheme to £220 million has been rejected by Labour politicians at City Hall.

The idea – to drastically boost the size of the fund to help people replace their polluting vehicles – was supported by a majority of London Assembly members, as Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Greens joined forces to vote for it.

But the proposal needed two thirds of Assembly Members (AMs) in order to pass, and was voted down by the Labour group.

The amendment to the Mayor’s budget, put forward by Lib Dem AM Caroline Pidgeon, would have required Mr Khan to double the size of the £110 million scrappage scheme he launched in January, by drawing money from City Hall’s reserves.

The Ulez, which charges drivers of non-compliant vehicles £12.50 per day, is due to expand on August 29.

Thousands of small businesses, charities and low-income Londoners have already applied for scrappage grants and the £110 million scheme is likely to become oversubscribed.

The Mayor has asked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for funding to double the size of the scheme to £220m, with the hope of providing support to people affected by the move in the Home Counties as well as outer London.

At a meeting on Thursday, Ms Pidgeon asked the Mayor why he was not using money from Transport of London’s (TfL) £500 million reserve fund to provide a bigger scrappage scheme.

“You stated that you believed you needed around £180 million over three years for scrappage, but that £110 million was all you could afford,” she said, referring to comments Mr Khan made in January.

“Do you really think Londoners would rather see you building up reserves across the Greater London Authority, rather than using around £100 million to help Londoners meet the Ulez expansion?” she asked.

The Mayor told Ms Pidgeon he would keep a decision on whether to use City Hall’s own funding to increase the size of the scrappage scheme “under review”.

He added that having large reserves was an important reason for why the City Hall has been awarded an AA-credit rating.

“What Caroline’s trying to do and what the Lib Dems are trying to do is have it both ways,” he said.

“They want to be able to say they care about air quality, but they also want to appeal to people who have got some concerns about this…

“At the moment there is plenty of money in the scrappage scheme. If it was the case – and it’s not the case – and history shows this, that we were concerned about the scrappage scheme, not being enough, I would review it, as I’ve said.

“I think this sort of gesture politics doesn’t do well to the issue we’re trying to address, which is addressing the climate emergency, improving the quality of air and also reducing congestion.”

Ms Pidgeon replied: “I think calling for a comprehensive scrappage scheme to support this policy is actually a very proper thing to do and I don’t appreciate your response.”

The Lib Dem amendment to double the size of the scrappage scheme won support from 14 members of the Assembly – comprising Lib Dems, Conservatives and Greens – but 10 Labour members voted it down, preventing it from achieving the required two thirds majority.

The Labour group also voted down another Lib Dem motion, which likewise had cross-party support and would have allocated £50 million towards improving bus services in outer London.

Labour AMs instead voted in favour of a separate motion, which proposed writing to the government to call for funding from them, rather than from City Hall, for a more “comprehensive” scrappage scheme, “similar to that provided to other parts of England”.

The latter motion successfully passed, with the Lib Dems and Greens also voting in favour and the Conservatives voting against.

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