A Labour parliamentary candidate has been caught on camera describing Sadiq Khan’s vehicle pollution levy as “unfair” and likely to hit poor Londoners hardest.
Dr Faiza Shaheen, an Oxford graduate whose father was a car mechanic, said the £12.50-a-day ultra low emission zone was causing concern among working class voters and small traders.
The rising star has been selected to take on former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford and Wood Green, where he is defending a 2,438 majority.
The Ulez launches in central London on April 8 but will split the constituency when it expands to the North and South Circular roads in October 2021.
Speaking at an event alongside Labour shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, Dr Shaheen accepted the need to improve air quality – but said the impact on jobs must not be forgotten.
She warned the Ulez would harm “plumbers, carpenters” who used a van and families who had been encouraged to switch to diesel cars.
“We have completely got the politics wrong in terms of the impact on inequalities,” she said.
Constituents were asking her how they would be able to run their business. “I don’t have an answer to them because it is unfair,” she said. “We didn’t communicate this plan well. We didn’t say to them: ‘This is this scrappage scheme that is in place that means you can do a one-to-one swap.’
“We didn’t think about the redistributional impacts for those at the poorer end who will have to switch their car.”
Dr Shaheen told the Standard her remarks were intended as a criticism of the Government for not introducing a national scrappage scheme.
But she added: “We have got to be very careful about small businesses. There needs to be more thought about an exemption.”
A spokesman for Mr Khan said: “The biggest air quality health impacts are felt by the poorest Londoners who have the fewest cars.
“That’s exactly why the Mayor is introducing the Ulez, and why he is bringing in two scrappage schemes – one to support small business owners upgrade the dirtiest vans, and one to support low-income Londoners.”
- An edited version of this story appears in tonight’s Evening Standard.