ULEZ: Sadiq Khan reaffirms commitment to ‘necessary’ expansion after Tories retain Uxbridge and South Ruislip

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Conservative candidate Steve Tuckwell defeated Labour’s Danny Beales in the west London by-election, with the ULEZ expansion seen as potentially a decisive factor.

Sadiq Khan has reaffirmed his belief the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion is the right move, amid pressure from senior Labour figures to reflect on the scheme following the party’s failure to win the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election.

On an otherwise miserable day for the Tories, in which they lost Selby and Ainsty in north Yorkshire to Labour and Somerset’s Somerton and Frome to the Liberal Democrats, they were able to cling on to Boris Johnson’s old west London constituency in yesterday’s (July 20) by-election, albeit by a majority of just 495.

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The seat has been Conservative since it was created in 2010, with the former prime minister, who resigned last month over a damning Partygate report, winning it by more than 7,000 votes in the 2019 election.

Local councillor Steve Tuckwell ended up edging out Labour’s Danny Beales, with the ULEZ expansion, which was the cornerstone of the Tory campaign, singled out as decisive in the final result.

The new Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP Steve Tuckwell (r) with prime minister Rishi Sunak (l). Credit: Carl Court - Pool / Getty Images.The new Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP Steve Tuckwell (r) with prime minister Rishi Sunak (l). Credit: Carl Court - Pool / Getty Images.
The new Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP Steve Tuckwell (r) with prime minister Rishi Sunak (l). Credit: Carl Court - Pool / Getty Images. | Getty Images

This was despite Mr Beales himself standing against the expansion as planned, calling instead for to be delayed beyond its current August 29 launch date.

Under the scheme, which currently extends to cover all of inner and central London, most non-compliant vehicles are liable to pay a £12.50 charge.

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However, the mayor and Transport for London (TfL) have said nine in ten vehicles currently seen driving in outer London are already ULEZ-compliant, meaning the vast majority are not likely to be impacted.

Following the result, Mr Tuckwell said: "[Mayor] Sadiq Khan has lost Labour this election. It was his damaging and costly ULEZ policy that lost them this election. This wasn’t the campaign Labour expected and Keir Starmer and his mayor, Sadiq Khan, needs to sit up and listen to the Uxbridge and South Ruislip residents.”

Since then, several Labour figures, including deputy leader Angela Rayner and leader Keir Starmer, have called for the mayor to look again at the proposed ULEZ expansion.

However, speaking to the BBC, Mr Khan reiterated his belief that his decision remains the right one.

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“We do want to clean up the air in London. I think it’s a human right, not a privilege. Nobody puts up with dirty water. Why dirty air?,” he said, adding he and his team are going to “carry on listening”.

A source close to the mayor told LondonWorld: “Winning Uxbridge and South Ruislip was always going to be a struggle for Labour. Labour hasn’t won this seat for five decades and Tony Blair didn’t even win it during the 1997 landslide.

“Sadiq has always been clear that expanding the ULEZ was a really difficult decision, but necessary to save the lives of young and vulnerable Londoners.”

The mayor and TfL are currently awaiting a High Court decision on the legality of the expansion in its current guise, after five Conservative councils launched a judicial review into the scheme. A judgement is expected by the end of July.

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