Sadiq Khan insists ‘Londoners are with me’ on Ulez expansion

Sadiq Khan has said he believes the ultra-low emission zone expansion will not lose him  the next mayoral election (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
Sadiq Khan has said he believes the ultra-low emission zone expansion will not lose him the next mayoral election (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

Sadiq Khan has insisted that the Ulez expansion would not lose him the next mayoral election – claiming that “Londoners are with me” in relation to tackling toxic air.

The ultra-low emission zone expanded to the Greater London boundary a week ago, on August 29 – a move that City Hall claims will result in five million Londoners breathing cleaner air.

But the expansion has sparked far greater controversy than the first Ulez expansion two years ago, which took it from central London up to the inner boundary of the North and South Circular roads. More than 500 Ulez enforcement cameras have been vandalised or stolen.

Mr Khan, asked on Sky News whether the Greater London Ulez would see voters turn against him in next May’s City Hall election, said on Tuesday: “I have no intention of losing this election. I know Londoners are with me in relation to wanting cleaner air.”

He said many motorists, who may have been influenced by “misinformation” about the impact of the Ulez, were now realising that their vehicles were already compliant – meaning they were not liable to pay the £12.50 a day levy.

Last week Mr Khan told the Standard that he was sure the 2024 mayoral election would not become a referendum on the Ulez expansion but would be decided on a range of issues, including affordable housing and his decision to offer free school meals to all London primary school pupils.

Mr Khan used the Sky News interview to describe his £135m free school meals initiative as a “lifeline” to parents struggling to survive the cost of living crisis.

He said it offered “breathing space” to hard-up families and would improve pupil attainment by boosting concentration levels.

“It’s right that every child in London should be able to have at least one good meal a day,” he said.

City Hall said that up to 287,000 state school children across the capital were now benefiting from free school meals. Most primary schools start the new academic year this week.

Mr Khan said it was cheaper to provide free meals to all pupils than seek to make it subject to some form of means-testing.

He recalled the “embarrassment and shame” of queuing up separately to receive his free school meal token when a child at primary school in Tooting.

Prior to the mayor’s initiative, children in years 3 to 6 only received free school meals if they lived in households on universal credit earning less than £7,400 a year.

The five London boroughs that already provided free school meals to all pupils have also received City Hall funding equivalent to £2.65 per meal.