The Motion, as printed in the agenda was proposed by Councillor Jefferies and seconded by Councillor G Coxshall. The Motion read as follows:
This Council condemns plans by the London Labour Mayor to extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to all Greater London and notes with concern the impact this would have on many Thurrock residents if implemented. Members also note the campaign by our Member of Parliament Jackie Doyle-Price to oppose the said extension and calls on Thurrock residents to sign her on-line petition.
Councillor Jefferies presented the motion by stating the motion spoke for people of Thurrock who would be affected by the Labour Mayor of London plan to expand ULEZ across Greater London in the summer of 2023. The change would affect 1000s of Londoners who used their car each day and more concerning the daily charge of £12.50 would affect 1000s of Thurrock residents who used their cars to travel into the zones. Regarding the amendment made by Councillor J Kent, although Councillor Jefferies was in favour of the measures to improve air quality which helped with public health and the climate, he could not agree to the consulting with the Mayor of London who had shown complete disregard to 5000 London residents who had replied to the consultation and were excluded from the headline figures of which 90% opposing to ULEZ. Councillor Jefferies stated if the Mayor of London had not listened to his own constituents, he would not listen to anyone in Thurrock. In conclusion, Councillor Jefferies called on the Mayor of London to cancel the ULEZ expansion which was regressive, unfair and a waste of money and call on all Members to support this motion and urged all residents to go on-line and sign the member of parliament’s petition.
An amendment to this motion had been received from Councillor J Kent and seconded by Councillor Worrall and read as follows:
Thurrock Council is in favour of measures that seek to improve air quality and public health, tackle the climate emergency, and that reduces traffic congestion. Council notes plans by the London Labour Mayor to extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone to all Greater London and notes with concern the impact this would have on many Thurrock residents if implemented. Members also note the campaign by our Member of Parliament Jackie Doyle-Price to oppose the said extension and calls on Thurrock residents to sign her on-line petition. Council calls on Cabinet to work with Transport for London and the Mayor's Office to mitigate the impact on Thurrock residents.
Councillor J Kent presented the amended motion and stated all Members understood the need to improve air quality and public health but the scheme being rolled out now would be another hit to working people especially in Thurrock and agreed that this decision should have been delayed at least until the other side of the cost-of-living crisis. With Thurrock having many low-income workers who replied on their cars and vans as there was not the transport infrastructure available here for them, this would have a negative impact on businesses and sole traders within Thurrock who may trade in the zone and may not be financially able to replace older vehicles. Councillor J Kent raised his concern that drivers of non-compliant vehicles in a bid to avoid travelling through that zone, would skirt around that area and come through Thurrock. The amended motion should urge the Council to do something positive and to hold conversations with the Mayor’s Office on the extension of some of the elements of the car scrappage scheme to neighbouring boroughs. With a public transport deficit in Thurrock, a conversation should take place with Transport of London to see what improvements could be made to public transport in Thurrock. There were many things that cabinet could do if they had the will to work across boundaries and hoped that Members could see that and support the amendment.
Councillor Maney stated the reason not to support the amendment as the motion presented by Councillor Jefferies had summed up where the Council should be. He reassured Councillor J Kent that they had tried as hard as possible to speak with TFL and the Mayor’s Office but with no responses and was obvious that the Mayor of London did not want to consult with Thurrock but would continue to pursue. Regarding improving air quality as stated in Councillor J Kent amendment, the Mayor of London was seeking to offload London’s air pollution on Thurrock by people with non-compliant vehicles seeking to reroute through Thurrock. The plans of the Mayor’s Office would not only have financial impacts to the people of Thurrock but increase congestion, poor air quality and was unfair, so on that basis he would be supporting Councillor Jefferies motion and urged all Members to do the same.
Councillor Gledhill agreed to the difficulties of working with the Mayor of London and noted that there were people who lived on the outskirts of London who worked, supported, or cared for residents in Thurrock and these people would be hit the most and would need to make a choice whether to continue to work in Thurrock and how they would cover the daily charge. Councillor Gledhill stated this cannot be ignored, it cannot be delayed as referred by Councillor J Kent, it needed to be stopped immediately and as such would be supporting Councillor Jefferies motion as outlined.
Councillor Pearce stated her support for Councillor Jefferies motion as many residents of Aveley travelled to Havering on a regular basis and many could not afford to upgrade their vehicles. Those residents were hard working and would cause further financial hardship or being isolated from Greater London. Her constituents feared that should this proposal go ahead the next extension proposal could be to the congestion zone. Councillor Pearce stated the decision was unfair and all Members should join in opposing Labour’s new tax on motorists.
Councillor Abbas stated his support to Councillor Jefferies motion as ULEZ would affect many residents, particularly of Muslim faith, as this charge would make it very difficult for them to visit their loved ones who were buried in cemeteries in Redbridge.
Councillor Watson stated Councillor J Kent’s motion had asked for cabinet to take ownership and try to speak with TFL and the Mayor of London’s Office and urged them to keep trying.
Councillor Piccolo stated his support to Councillor Jefferies motion as this could be seen as an age and poverty tax which would be restrictive to them and who may not have the finances to purchase new vehicles that were in line with the congestion zone rules.
Councillor Sammons fully supported Councillor Jefferies motion as a small business owner and stated how difficult it was to purchase new vehicles and agreed the extension should be scrapped altogether.
Councillor Byrne commented that thought needed to be given to those Thurrock residents who were now being asked to pay to park outside their homes.
Councillor Johnson reiterated that TFL and the Mayor’s Office had and will not listen to Thurrock Council and on that basis would be supporting Councillor Jefferies motion.
Councillor G Coxshall raised his concerns on the proposed plans as residents of South Ockendon who worked in London, who were self-employed or drove to work would be looking at an additional £60 a week extra if they did not comply. He questioned why the motion should just be to note and accepted, that a stance needed to be taken to focus all efforts into opposing and condemn this and Members should be encouraging residents to sign the petition.
Councillor Worrall as seconder to the amended motion did not comment.
Councillor J Kent summed up by addressing some of the comments made regarding Cllr G Coxshall question about why the motion should just be to note, Councillor J Kent stated the word “note” was in the original motion. Agreed with Councillor Byrne that it was hypocritical for Members to complain about taxes on motorists when charges were being made for residents to park outside their own home, car park increases and new car park charges at places such as Coalhouse Fort. The amendment was asking for the Council to do something rather than not, to try and speak with the Mayor of London and TFL to get some mitigation of the scheme for the residents of Thurrock.
Councillor Jefferies summed up by stating this was the worst time to implement this due to the cost-of-living crisis with £60 extra a week for residents, with only nine months to prepare, new vehicles hard to purchase, energy bills were up, inflation was up so residents could not afford this new charge. With ULEZ never being intended to apply to outer London, this needed to stop, this was a hit on drivers and had nothing to do with air quality but with the mismanagement of the Mayor’s Office of TFL finances. Councillor Jefferies reiterated that over 5000 responses had been taken out of the headline figure with 90% of those opposing to the ULEZ expansion.
The Mayor called a vote on the amended Motion.
With 14 votes for and 28 votes against the amendment, the motion was lost.
The Mayor called a vote on the substantive motion to which Councillor Jefferies requested a requisition vote.
For: Councillors Abbas, Allen, Anderson, D Arnold, P Arnold, Carter, Collins, G Coxshall, M Coxshall, Duffin, Gledhill, Halden, Jefferies, Johnson, Kelly, Little, Maney, Massey, Mayes, Pearce, Piccolo, Polley, Ralph, Redsell, Sammons, Snell, Spillman, Thandi (28)
Against: Councillors Byrne, Chukwu, Holloway, C Kent, J Kent, Kerin, Liddiard, Muldowney, Panjala, Pothecary, Raper, Shinnick, Watson and Worrall (13)
The Mayor announced the substantive Motion carried.