Pensioner ‘not be able to visit his parents’ graves due to ULEZ charge

A pensioner fears he will not be able to visit his parents’ graves as often when the £12.50 ULEZ charge starts.

Stuart Woodroffe drives an hour once a month from Coggeshall, Essex, to Upminster Cemetery in east London.

However, with Sadiq Khan’s expansion plans due to take place this August, the 69-year-old man fears the cost will hit normal people the hardest.

The trip by public transport would take more than two hours and involve a bus, two trains, and the Overground.

Stuart told MyLondon: “I’m getting on a bit now, and my mobility isn’t what it used to be.

“The journey would be far more difficult for me if I had to take the train, and probably more expensive too.”

Instead Stuart – who lived in London with his family until he was 21 – chooses to drive his non-compliant Vauxhall Insignia when he makes the journey.

But with the levy set to come into place later this year, he says he simply can’t afford to replace his vehicle or fork out £150 extra a year to visit his mum and dad’s graves.

Under the current scrappage scheme, drivers in the Home Counties are not eligible for up to £2,000 towards a new car.

Stuart said: “I don’t just have £35,000 lying around to make the switch [to an electric car].

“But the people making these decisions aren’t earning normal peoples wages, they can place the extra costs on expenses where as most of can’t do that.

“At this particular time we’re all under intense pressure with the cost of things and this is just another thing to add to the heap.”

The pensioner blasted the ULEZ boundary changes as being nothing more than a “tax-raising exercise” and that if it goes ahead it would “p*** him off” intensely.

Stuart added: “Driving a car costs enough in taxes and indirect taxes anyway but to add this on will hit people very hard.

“It becomes a case of having to make a personal decision based on a financial one, which just shouldn’t happen.”

He also shared that he doesn’t want to stop visiting his parents, especially after losing his younger sister in 2016.

“I’m the last one left of the original family and it feels like a responsibility I want to upkeep.

“It just upsets me that this is happening.”

He explained that he understands why the zone works in busy Central London but argues there is no need for it to move further out.

“For me anyway, I have to drive five minutes into the newly proposed zone and then I’m stuck with the charge,” Stuart said, “It just doesn’t make sense.”

Recent analysis of DVLA data found there are 1.6 million cars in the Home Counties which will be stung by the ULEZ expansion if they drive into London.

Sadiq Khan claims some opposing ULEZ are ‘far right’

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In response, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan asked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to double the size of the existing scrappage scheme to £220 million to support residents of the Home Counties like Stuart.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said to MyLondon: “The Mayor has been clear that the decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide was not an easy one, but he has a duty to tackle toxic air pollution, which is causing people to develop life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma, and leading to children growing up with stunted lungs.

“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year due to toxic air, with the greatest number of deaths attributable to air pollution in London’s outer boroughs.

“Air pollution shows no regard for boundary lines, and extending the ULEZ London-wide will enable millions more people to breathe cleaner air.

“The Mayor has listened to Londoners throughout this process, which is why he’s announced the biggest scrappage scheme yet – £110m – to help the Londoners who need it most, including charities, low income and disabled Londoners, small businesses and sole traders.

“The Mayor continues to call on central Government to provide additional funding to London and the surrounding areas for scrappage schemes, as they have done for other cities across England.”

“Any net revenue received from the ULEZ will be reinvested into running and improving London’s transport network, including to expand bus routes in outer London.”

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