Both the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail have reported that the Government may block the expansion of the ULEZ to outer London. It is suggested they could use Section 143 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999. This gives the Secretary of State the power to veto the Mayor of London’s policies which are inconsistent with national transport policies (see https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1999/29/section/143 ).
Paul Scully, Transport Minister, has argued that as the ULEZ affects many people who live outside of London itself. He said “It affects a whole load of people in Surrey, Kent and Hertfordshire who didn’t get a say on it. It is taxation without representation”.
Comment: Whether Section 143 of the Act gives the requisite power to block the Mayor is legally questionable in my view but it might be worth fighting in the Courts. However, and as I have said before, as ultimately the Government has the power to change the 1999 Act, they should threaten to do so. They could simply remove the ability to introduce or continue with charging schemes. Simply threatening to do so would put the Mayor in an impossible position because he would incur very substantial costs in building the camera network which would then not be recoverable.
The Government just needs to make some tough decisions and lay down the law on this issue instead of sitting on the fence and trying to please everyone.
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