Council rules our ultra-low emission zone for Leeds following unanimous agreement

The ULEZ has proved politically controversial in London

Leeds City Council has ruled out introducing a London-style ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ).

The decision means drivers will not have to pay a £12.50 daily charge as they do in the capital, where the introduction of a 24/7, 364-day-a-year ULEZ has proved unpopular and politically controversial.

While supporters of the scheme highlight the effect it is having on air quality, critics claim it is financially punishing ordinary people.

In Leeds councillors from all parties unanimously voted to rule out ULEZ "in principle", but added that the authority "also believes that all Leeds citizens have the right to breathe clean air".

It also committed to publishing a report setting out future actions to improve air quality.

The agreement occurred at a meeting of full council on 13 September.

The leader of Leeds's Conservative group, Cllr Alan Lamb, told the full council meeting: "Our position is clear. We think it's hard enough already to get round the city centre without alternatives for people, particularly in outer areas, like [my ward of] Wetherby.

"If we want people from all parts of the city to come to the city centre, we need to have a means for them to do it.

"It's a balance between cleaning the quality of the air and making the city safe for everyone. But all the evidence is charging people more taxes is not the way to achieve that. There are far better ways to achieve that."

Under government direction, Leeds had been due to introduce a clean air zone in 2020, which would have seen charges for buses, lorries, and taxis that fell short of emissions standards.

But the policy was dropped after air quality levels improved sufficiently.

Labour's executive member for the environment, Cllr Mohammed Rafique (Chapel Allerton), said that local pollution had not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

He told the meeting: "We remain committed to making sure we don't see any decline in future.

"We'll ensure people have a choice when it comes to their journey, whether it's walking, cycling, the bus, train, taxi, or their own cars.

"We recognise that some people want to or need to drive."

Last month, West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin ruled out bringing in an ULEZ at regional level, saying that the responsibility for air quality lay with individual councils.