ayor Sadiq Khan has given Conservative councils until Thursday to sign a legal agreement permitting the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), according to a report.
Transport for London (TfL) have reportedly written to four Tory-run boroughs to notify them that they will proceed with the installation of ULEZ signs and cameras despite the threat of a legal challenge to the plans.
TfL have asked London councils to sign a “section 8” agreement granting it permission to erect CCTV cameras and road signs on borough roads.
Bromley, Bexley, Hillingdon and Harrow have served a “pre-action” letter on Mr Khan, warning of a possible High Court challenge. Eight of the 24 boroughs impacted by the widening of the zone have not yet consented to having TfL’s ULEZ enforcement cameras on their roads.
But in a letter to all four boroughs, seen by the BBC, TfL say they have the legal powers to over-ride them.
However, TfL make clear that they would prefer to have the boroughs’ consent. This would enable councils to make choices over the design and positioning of cameras and signs, TfL say.
TfL write that Mr Khan has an “overwhelming preference” to cooperate with the boroughs, which would enable them to “influence the final works, their locations and designs”.
The letter makes clear that TfL have “direct installation” powers that will allow the works to go ahead with or without the borough’s support.
“The Mayor and TfL consider them to be reserve powers to be used only after attempts to resolve matters have proved unsuccessful,” the letter says.
“However, the guidance is explicit that TfL may appropriately use them to ensure that the works (or enough of them) are completed sufficiently in advance of the 29 August 2023 scheme commencement date.”
The letter goes on to argue that political disputes between London boroughs and the Greater London Authority about air pollution “are not appropriately decided by the courts”.
In a pre-action protocol letter to Mr Khan and TfL, the boroughs claim there are four ways in which the scheme is “unlawful”.
This includes the claim that the Mayor has exceeded his powers by treating the new zone as a “variation” of the existing ULEZ, rather than presenting a new plan, according to the BBC.
And the councils have also challenged City Hall’s claim that the zone will raise £200m in its first year.
TfL rejected all of these claims in its letter, saying the decision was “properly reasoned and rational” and the consultation was “fair”.
Meanwhile a £110m scrappage scheme, offering grants to lower income Londoners, small businesses and charities to scarp or upgrade non-compliant vehicles, opened on Monday.
A spokesperson for TfL told the Standard: “The Mayor has been clear that with 4000 Londoners a year dying from toxic air, his decision to expand the ULEZ should be implemented with minimal delay. In doing so we are working closely and collaboratively with all boroughs concerned to install the infrastructure needed.”