High Court denies coalition’s ULEZ expansion challenge.
The coalition of councils challenging ULEZ expansion is hugely disappointed that the High Court has today (Friday 28 July) determined that there is no legal impediment to the Mayor’s expansion of ULEZ to outer London but accepts its decision. Although the Mayor of London and TfL may have the legal right to implement the scheme, the question remains whether the public would agree he has the moral right to do so, given it was only last week that the court of public opinion delivered a different verdict with the surprise by-election win in Uxbridge, an election that was seen as a referendum on the expansion of ULEZ.
It is evident that the Mayor of London and TfL do not realise the damage the extension will have to the lives of residents and businesses in outer London as well as those outside of its borders.
The expansion of ULEZ is now expected to go ahead as planned on Tuesday 29 August, with anyone driving a non-compliant vehicle in the expanded zone expected to pay £12.50 per day.
Cllr Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council, said: “Today’s decision cannot be disguised as anything other than bitter disappointment for motorists in general, traders who will now have to consider ceasing business and laying off staff, those who will now have to change jobs and, most desperately of all, people who will no longer be able to support vital care networks for vulnerable people across the whole of outer London in particular.
“To all of them as well as the legion of families who will now have to trade in perfectly good cars at significant cost they can’t really afford, for a newer vehicle they don’t want or need, I can only say sorry. We’ve tried our very hardest to protect you but ultimately, today’s judgement does mean that the Mayor has taken another step closer to getting his way.
“However, do please be assured that this is not the end of the matter and this battle will continue. To draw a positive from this setback, we have been extremely successful in bringing the Mayor’s intentions both around ULEZ, as well as Road Price Charging which is set to follow, to every front page and living room across the country in recent weeks, and what has become increasingly clear, is that the more that people see and learn of it, the less they like it.
“We will take that energy and build on it over coming weeks and it may well be that we will now need to turn to Parliament for a solution immediately upon their return from their Summer Recess at the beginning of September.”
Cllr Ian Edwards, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "I am hugely disappointed for our residents and businesses and I call on the Mayor of London to further reflect on his plans.
“Even the Mayor’s own supporters are now saying that it is the wrong time to be expanding this scheme. Many thousands of low-income earners, vulnerable people ordinary workers and small businesses who are the beating heart of our borough will have to shoulder further costs which they cannot afford. It will cause even greater financial hardship and for some it will cause the loss of business or employment.
“We will continue our fight on behalf of our residents and business through Parliament and at next year’s Mayoral election.
“I am proud that we had the courage and conviction to stand up for our residents and businesses and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in or who has sent messages of support for our fight which, as I have said, will go on.”
Cllr Baroness O’Neill of Bexley OBE, Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, said: “I’m extremely disappointed at the outcome of the judicial review and the impact it will have on our residents and businesses. They have told us time and time again how worried they were about ULEZ which was why we took this action on their behalf.
“The judge may have said that the Mayor has the legal right to implement the scheme but, as we saw last week, there is also a moral judgment to consider. Even senior supporters of the Mayor have voiced their concerns around the expansion of this scheme.
“The fact that the Mayor of London has got his way and that his ULEZ expansion plan is to go ahead is devastating for the whole of outer London. This is especially true for Bexley because of our lack of transport links.
“I’m sure that jobs and businesses will also feel the effect as less out of borough residents will want to come to work or shop in Bexley because of this new charge.
“I know from speaking to carers who have to travel in and out of the borough to visit family members on a regular basis that they will be one of the groups who will suffer most.
“I’d like to thank the coalition members for all the hard work they have put into this battle – I know they are as saddened today as I am. I now call on the Mayor to do the right thing by outer London and delay the implementation.”
Cllr Paul Osborn, Leader of the London Borough of Harrow, said: “This is not the outcome we were hoping for and is hugely disappointing. It is a sad day for our residents and businesses who are worried about the impact the expansion will have on them when it comes into force in August.
“I firmly believe that ULEZ expansion is the wrong scheme for outer London. We had an arguable case, and the fact that we got this far in our challenge against this unpopular scheme shows that we were right to proceed.
“I am proud to have stood up for our residents and businesses. So many have spoken to me about how this scheme will impact them. I’d like to thank the thousands of people who have supported us.
“Unfortunately, the Mayor will push ahead with his plans. I will continue to speak up for our residents on the expansion of the ULEZ and will press the government to give us the power to stop this expansion to our borough.
"I will also be lobbying for better schemes to further help improve air quality and public transport links in Harrow. I am already taking positive steps to improve air quality in our borough - this includes ensuring our fleet is as green as possible, and as of last night I approved plans to install 225 additional electric charging points to help our residents who want to switch to electric vehicles.
“I will always put our residents first on the issues that matter to them.”
Cllr Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “Whilst we respect today’s court decision, it is incredibly disappointing.
“This has always been about protecting Surrey residents, many of whom will now be significantly socially and financially impacted by the Mayor’s decision as they go about essential, everyday journeys, without any mitigation in place to minimise this.
“Our concerns, which have never been addressed by the Mayor despite our continued efforts, forced these legal proceedings to ensure we did all we possibly could to have the voice of our residents heard.
“We met with Transport for London on 14 July in the hope of agreeing mitigation for Surrey residents. Sadly, nothing was offered.”
Notes to editors:
The council coalition includes the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon, and Surrey County Council.
A two-day hearing was held at the High Court on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 July, with the judge, Lord Justice Swift, delivering his judgement on Friday 28 July.
The judicial review was brought on three grounds, all of which were dismissed:
- Failure to follow statutory procedure - Schedule 23 Greater London Authority Act 1999
- Unlawful and unfair consultation regarding expected compliance rates in outer London
- Unlawfulness regarding scrappage scheme, including failing to consider a buffer zone, irrationality and inadequate consultation.
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