East London MP writes letter to deputy mayor demanding further exemptions from Ulez charges, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter
City Hall will “consider” an MP’s request to make hospice staff, volunteers and patients exempt from paying the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) charge, Sadiq Khan’s transport deputy has said.
Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, made the plea in a letter to Seb Dance, London’s deputy mayor of transport.
Dance, speaking less than a week before the Ulez expands to cover the whole of London – including Cruddas’ constituency – said the request would be “taken on board”.
In his letter, the MP specifically referred to St Francis Hospice in Havering-atte-Bower, a village just inside the London boundary where buses are the only available public transport.
According to an article on the Havering Daily website – shared on social media by Cruddas – the MP told Dance: “We realise this is very late in the day, but we ask that urgent consideration be given to extending the Ulez exemptions granted to staff, volunteers and patients at St Francis Hospice and indeed other hospices in Greater London.”
Responding, the deputy mayor told the Local Democracy Reporting Service there are already “a number of schemes” which offer “additional support” to people in certain circumstances, such as the NHS reimbursement scheme.
Under that scheme, NHS patients who have been clinically assessed as too ill to travel to an appointment on public transport are generally eligible to claim back any Ulez charge and/or congestion charge they paid from their treating hospital.
But no such measures are in place for hospices, as they are not part of the NHS.
Dance said: “Of course we’ll take on board Jon’s comments, and any [other] suggestion – which we have done throughout this process.
“We’ve evolved the support structures that we’ve put [in place], through the scrappage scheme for example, and the mayor’s been very clear that we’ll continue to listen to Londoners on how we can improve the scheme.”
Ulez requires owners of non-compliant vehicles to pay a daily charge of £12.50, if driving within the zone. It currently covers the area within the North Circular and South Circular roads, but the mayor is expanding the zone to cover the whole of London this Tuesday (29th).
The vehicle scrappage scheme referred to by the deputy mayor was on Monday opened up to every Londoner with a non-compliant vehicle.
Cruddas is one of a few Labour MPs to have stated their opposition to the Ulez expansion, calling it “yet another unwelcome hit on working people”.
The mayor says the expansion will allow five million Londoners to breathe cleaner air, and save lives in the process.