ULEZ Protestors Disrupt Merton Council Meeting

Piers Corbyn among group heckling councillors

Former Labour leader's brother campaigning against the ULEZ. Picture: Piers Corbyn

April 24, 2023

Merton Council was forced to adjourn its meeting after residents demanded answers about the expansion Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

The authority paused its Wednesday night (19 April) meeting after heckles were made from those against the city-wide rollout of the £12.50 a day charge. It is set to come into action on 29 August.

Local resident Dawn Spragg wrote in to ask why Merton Council was not “actively engaging” with residents about ULEZ. At the meeting, she asked a follow-up question, saying, “How are you as our elected members engaging with the people that elected you to advise them about the ULEZ that will be inflicted on our borough on August 29.”

Cabinet member for transport, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, claimed the scheme has cross-party support from Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour. This led to outrage from the leader of the Conservative group Councillor Nick McLean who said the Merton Tories oppose the expansion.

Ms Spragg’s question was one of four from the public on the ULEZ expansion. However, the other three questions were not discussed in the meeting.

When the Merton mayor, Councillor Joan Henry tried to move on to the next item on the agenda she was heckled by those sitting in the public gallery, who included Piers Corbyn.

It caused Ms Spragg to move to the microphone, where residents can speak at the meeting, to ask why the other questions were not being addressed. Cllr Henry ordered Ms Spragg to move back to her seat but when her pleas were unsuccessful the meeting was adjourned.

Merton Council has not joined other outer London boroughs in opposing the ULEZ expansion, which will soon cover the whole of London.

Another resident, Wendy Kane, wrote to the council to ask why Merton has agreed to the scheme. A written response from the council said air pollution in the borough exceeds safe levels which impacts on the health of residents.

It added, “We understand the current cost of living crisis and its impact, but London needs to take decisive action to tackle what is known as the most significant environmental risk to public health.”

Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter