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Bike shop owner – who owns nine cars – says ULEZ expansion will cause “chaos”

“I respect the fact that they want lower emissions, but why should you be able to pay a tax to still poison people?” the Bromley local said

A bike shop owner in South London – who also owns nine cars – has spoken out against plans to expand the city’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which he believes will cause “chaos” for locals as well as simply creating a tax permitting paying motorists to “still poison people”.

Chris Penfold, who owns Deen’s Garage bike shop in Beckenham, Bromley, told the News Shopper that it will cost him £80,000 to upgrade three of his family’s cars to ensure they are compliant with the new extended scheme, which is set to be introduced by the end of August.

Bromley Council is one of five Conservative-controlled local authorities to publicly oppose the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s proposals to expand the ULEZ to outer London, with plans to mount a legal challenge backed earlier this month by former mayor (and Prime Minister) Boris Johnson.

Council leader Colin Smith has described the expansion as a “socially regressive tax” which “directly threatens jobs, the viability and availability of small businesses, and [will cause] significant damage to vital care networks.”

> Boris Johnson blasts “unnecessary” ULEZ expansion as “mad lefty tax” designed to “rake in money from hard-pressed motorists”

According to Khan’s plans, the ULEZ – inside which motorists will be charged £12.50 a day for driving non-compliant, high-polluting cars – will be extended to outer London from 29 August, a decision described by the Labour mayor as “not easy but necessary to reduce the capital's toxic air pollution”.

As part of the expansion, a £110m scrappage scheme will also be introduced, which aims to provide low-income Londoners with grants of up to £2,000 to replace their high-polluting vehicles.

However, Penfold – who, along with running his bike shop, repairs and races cars as a “silly hobby” – says that, under the scheme, six of the nine cars he currently owns will be non-compliant.

“Because I’m able to fix stuff, I tend to end up attracting free cars,” he told the News Shopper.

“My uncle had his catalytic converter stolen off his car, so he was going to scrap it because the car was old, so I repaired it… I’ve got nine at the minute, but I’ll compete [in races] in four of them, one of them is my wife’s car, and one of them’s a work car. But out of that, six are non-compliant [with ULEZ regulations].”

The bike shop owner continued that he and his family drive up to three cars a day as part of his business and for hobbies such as horse riding and racing, and that the cost of upgrading all three vehicles will come to £80,000.

Penfold also criticised what he regards as the “bizarre” rules concerning which cars are exempt from the charge.

“[I was given a] Nissan Micra which has done 16,000 miles, and bizarrely it’s non-compliant,” he says. “It could do another 80 or 90,000 miles. But yet you can go and buy a 50 grand Tesla, which is completely uneconomical to put on the road.”

The Bromley local did note, however, that he agrees with restricting car use in congested areas of central London, but that the expansion will disproportionately affect residents in some parts of the capital who have to “drive for miles” to get to their nearest shop.

“It’s pretty endless, the chaos it’s going to cause and the discomfort for no great effect on the air because the air is alright anyway,” he says.

 “I respect the fact that they want lower emissions, but why should you be able to pay a tax to still poison people?

“Why are you paying money for that to happen? You should either have it and not pay or ban it, not be able to pay to use it.

“It’s basically saying that people are getting really ill and dying and they’ve got a poor quality of life, but if you give us £12.50 it’s actually acceptable.”

> Sadiq Khan is “treating Londoners with complete and utter contempt” over ULEZ expansion, says London Assembly member 

Responding to the bike shop owner’s complaints, a spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “With around 4000 Londoners a year dying prematurely from toxic air, it is imperative that the Mayor’s decision to expand the ULEZ should be implemented without delay.

“Research by Imperial College London shows that Bromley has the highest number of premature deaths linked to air pollution of all London boroughs – with an estimated 204 lives lost every year.”

The spokesperson also noted that around 85 percent of vehicles in outer London are already compliant with ULEZ regulations.

They continued: “For those with the most polluting vehicles, the Mayor has launched his £110m vehicle scrappage scheme – the largest scheme ever launched by any city in the UK – to help low-income Londoners, disabled Londoners and small businesses and charities to replace their old, polluting vehicles.

“The Mayor is also calling on the Government to provide additional scrappage funding to London and the surrounding areas.

"The Government has provided millions of pounds for scrappage schemes in other parts of the country, but not given a single penny to London.”

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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