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Protesters Against ULEZ Expansion Stop London Traffic

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Protesters brought traffic to a standstill in an outer London borough as they demonstrated against the controversial expansion of the ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ).

Tractors, a taxi and a three-wheel car were seen spiralling around a roundabout at Orpington War Memorial, southeast London, while protesters shouted into megaphones and blew whistles.

The ULEZ expansion, which will come into effect in 10 days, will see drivers in outer London pay a £12.50 daily fee if their vehicles do not meet required emissions standards.

Orpington locals Alex Hart, 65, and his wife Cheryl, 61, were among the crowd. They were worried they would have to spend up to £40,000 to replace their car.

“I have never protested about anything until this. I have got a Volvo C30. It’s diesel because I was told by my Government that diesel was the environmentally friendly thing to do. I now have to get rid of it,” Mr Hart said.

“It’s a 2010 car but it has been regularly serviced and looked after. We go on journeys to see my children in Cornwall, we have recently been to Suffolk. It’s great but now Mayor Khan is telling me to get rid of it.

“We will be without a car soon or having to pay a tax which is totally unjust.”

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Michael Hughes-Nurse was also at the protest. The 88-year-old has to regularly use his 23-year-old Rover as his wife Sheena is arthritic.

He said: “She cannot walk more than 10 yards now. She is waiting for a new knee.

“I cannot afford to change our car. It is in very good condition. Our car cost us about £21,000 with all the extras in 2000.

“The car is in immaculate condition for the year. [The ULEZ expansion] will hit a lot of commercial people, people with vans.

“With the cost-of-living crisis, electricity prices, food prices, everything has gone up. This will hit a lot of people.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last month urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to “think twice” about the expansion, while on Monday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested cities should look at other options for tackling air pollution.

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How air pollution could impact dementia sufferers A spokesperson for the mayor said the decision to expand the ULEZ zone was “not an easy one for the mayor to make, but necessary to tackle air pollution and the climate crisis”.

“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year due to toxic air, children are growing up with stunted lungs and thousands of people in our city are developing life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma,” the spokesperson added.

“More than nine out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London are already compliant and will not have to pay the charge.

“For those with a non-compliant vehicle, the mayor has announced a major expansion to his scrappage scheme from Monday, making it available to every single Londoner impacted by ULEZ.

“ULEZ has already been proven to work – reducing toxic air in central London by nearly half. It is projected that ULEZ will not raise any revenue within a few years as more vehicles become compliant.

“In the meantime, all net revenue will be reinvested back into public transport, including the expansion of bus routes in outer London.”