The expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and subsequent daily charge will be a true hardship for people with disabilities.
On October 25, the ULEZ was expanded from the North to the South Circular Roads in London, levying a daily charge of £12.50 on those with older vehicles.
Kush Kanodia, Chief Disability Officer at Kaleidoscope Group, an organization working to empower disability through business, is heading a campaign calling for help to fight for fair ULEZ exemption for about a quarter of million people with disabilities who have Blue Badges in London.
“Disabled people must be exempted from ULEZ charges if they are to play a full part in society. We urge a complete rethink of the extension of the scheme which might be designed to improve London’s air quality but should also ensure that London is accessible.
“With less than 30% of London’s tube stations accessible with step-free access, London’s inaccessible public transport system results in many disabled people having no choice but to drive,” said Kanodia.
The campaign strives to raise £5000, through crowdsource funding, to contract an renowned QC to submit a legal opinion on whether ULEZ violates the human rights of people with disabilities and the Public Sector Equality duty as set out in the Equality Act 2010.
Blue Badge holders, whether as a driver or as a passenger, are currently exempt from the Congestion Charge Zone, but there is currently no similar exemption for the ULEZ. It’s suggested, therefore, that the Transport for London’s (TFL) Equality Impact Assessment did not properly contemplate the needs of people with disabilities and their need to receive support from friends, family, carers, and helpers, when making this decision. Particularly as the decision has been made during the COVID-19 pandemic when people with disabilities have been adversely and significantly impacted.
Kanodia added, “Many disabled Londoners who have Blue Badges do not own a car but will use the pass when getting a lift from friends. The ULEZ rules mean that only cars registered to disabled people will be exempt and people taking them shopping, giving them a lift or caring would have to pay a charge if their vehicle doesn’t comply with the ULEZ rules. With ULEZ there is no flexibility.”
Although there will be a three-year exemption for those with Blue Badges, this will only apply to those with a vehicle tax exemption.
Kanodia and campaigners are requesting that the Mayor of London and TFL provide people with disabilities in London who have a Blue Badge, with the same appropriate adjustments that are currently provided under the Congestion Charging Zone.
The Mayor of London and TFL have already given exemptions for all of London’s Diesel Black Cabs for ULEZ and are also supporting the new four lane Silvertown tunnel but have so far failed to exempt Blue Badge holders in London.
The campaign has already received support from Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea (ADKC), Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Member of Parliament for Kensington, Multiple London Assembly Members, Green party Disability Group, Disability Rights UK and Inclusion London.
To find out more about donating to the fundraising campaign, visit: https://www.crowdjustice.com