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‘Many will boycott London’s ULEZ rather than pay £4,000 a year’

Mike Rutherford thinks London’s expanded ULEZ is one of the worst anti-motoring schemes he’s ever seen

Opinion - ULEZ

So, how might you react if discriminated against, abused and ripped off by a person working at a dealership, repair shop, filling station or insurance company? You’d rightly walk away and shop elsewhere – preferably with the type of people and at the sort of places that have more respect for you, your car and your family finances.

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More difficult, and then some, is deciding how to react to someone, in this case, Labour politician Sadiq Khan, who’s currently abusing, discriminating against and ripping off countless motorists he accuses of driving the ‘wrong’ cars which pollute excessively. These, incidentally, are the same vehicles that the UK’s Conservative Government, police forces, DVLA, DVSA and other national organisations officially declare as legal. But this matters not to London Mayor Khan who, as of 29 August, has been fining motorists £12.50 a day, equivalent to more than £4,000 per year, for driving cars he personally disapproves of in his widened Ultra Low Emission Zone. A classic case of megalomania? I’m only asking.

If you own the type of car that offends him you could just capitulate and pay the four grand annually (not recommended), helping him lift hundreds of millions, and eventually billions, of pounds from motorists’ pockets. Alternatively, you can do the more sensible thing of boycotting Greater London (although that’s easier said than done if, like me, you have to drive in for work, family, hospital, charitable activities, etc).

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Another option is to bite the bullet and sell or stop driving that small, youngish, perfectly legal, efficient vehicle of yours that Khan has decided is ‘ULEZ non-compliant’. But so pathetically ill-conceived and chaotic are his rules that a bigger, thirstier, higher-mileage, even older car could well be completely, utterly and inexplicably compliant, according to the dodgy gospel preached by Mr Mayor.

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Mad, isn’t it?  But it’s for real, as I can personally testify, because I’ve recently rescued from an emigrating relative, a large, luxury car built in 2008, MoT’d until mid-2024 and powered by a 2.5-litre V6 engine that likes a drink.

The Mayor’s own office admits that average speeds in parts of ‘his’ London are as low as 7mph. And on the couple of occasions I’ve driven my new-but-old V6 in the capital it’s achieved less than 20 miles to the gallon, which even I admit is lousy economy.

Yet Khan disagrees. He insists the car wholly complies with his crackpot ULEZ rules and regs. Conversely, the considerably younger and massively more fuel-efficient 2015 diesel-powered van I drive to and from hospitals across the ULEZ-oppressed capital as part of my charitable work on behalf of young cancer patients is non-compliant. Therefore I will now have to pay over £4,000 a year to the Mayor if I need to drive it daily.

I’ve lost count of the number of rotten, anti-motorist schemes and hypocritical, car-hating politicians I’ve seen come and go over almost half a century. But ULEZ and Khan rank as the worst of the worst. Honestly, the pair of them really are that bad.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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