Sadiq Khan heckled at meeting after decrying 'far right' element of anti-ULEZ protesters
'How dare you, who do you think you are?': Sadiq Khan received a frosty reception as he answered questions on ULEZ expansion, ITV London's Carolyn Sim reports
Sadiq Khan was jeered at a public meeting on Thursday night after attacking a “far right” element among protesters rallying against his plan to expand London’s ultra-low emission zone.
Attendees of the “People’s Question Time” event at Ealing Town Hall began heckling him as he discussed his proposal to extend ULEZ to all of the capital’s boroughs from August.
Members of the audience questioning the Mayor of London on his plan were mainly concerned with having to pay a daily charge of £12.50 for entering the zone.
However, some protesters outside the venue were linking the ULEZ extension plan to “15-minute cities”, which have become the latest source of inspiration for conspiracy theorists.
Addressing the crowd, Mr Khan said: “Let's be frank, let's call a spade a spade. Some of those outside are part of the far-right, some are Covid deniers, some are vaccine deniers, and some are Tories.”
Watch: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan met with heckles as he refers to 'far right' and 'Covid denier' anti-ULEZ protesters
As audience members erupted with anger, London Assembly chairman and member for Ealing and Hillingdon Dr Onkar Sahota, who hosted the event, threatened to have people removed if they didn’t settle down.
Mr Khan added: “There are people with legitimate concerns, we're seeking to address those and we'll carry on listening to make sure that ULEZ is a success."
Despite his acknowledgement of legitimate concerns, the mayor was accused of painting anyone who opposes his plan with the same brush.
Conservative Assembly member Peter Fortune was met with cheers from the crowd as he said: “You heard it didn’t you? If you disagree with the mayor, he’s going to paint you as far-right.
“If you disagree with the mayor, he’s going to say you’re a science-denier, he’s going to say you’re a Covid-denier, he’s going to say you’re a flat-earther, he’s going to say you think there are aliens in Buckingham Palace, and Mr Blobby shot Kennedy.
“He’s going to throw all this crazy stuff at you, because he doesn’t want to address the fact you’ve got legitimate concerns.”
In a tweet following the session, Mr Khan wrote: “Good to answer questions in Ealing on how we are addressing genuine concerns about ULEZ expansion, whilst ensuring our children no longer breathe in poison.
“To the conspiracy theorists who tried to disrupt tonight's #PQT: Londoners have no time for your dangerous misinformation.”
In February four London Labour MPs called on the mayor to postpone the August ULEZ expansion because of cost of living crisis.
Lord Moylan said: "In London, the outer London boroughs, including those of Labour MPs are very worried about ULEZ, very worried about it, being extended to the whole of their boroughs.
"There has not been any proper consultation - the balance of power is all wrong in this."
An estimated 200,000 drivers of older cars and vans which fail to meet modern emissions standards face a daily £12.50 charge to drive in Greater London from August 29.
Four Tory-controlled outer London boroughs - Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon - are considering a legal challenge to the mayor’s scheme.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “There are clearly genuine concerns about ULEZ amongst the small proportion of drivers who have the most polluting vehicles and are worried about what it will mean for them.
"That’s why Sadiq is doing all he can to support small businesses and those on low incomes to switch to cleaner, greener vehicles through his £110 million scrappage scheme.
“The mayor stands by his decision to call out the vile messages on display outside the event in Ealing.
"Those who came to protest included people displaying Nazi symbols and spreading vaccine conspiracy theories.
"Unfortunately, there is a small group who appear to have latched on to ULEZ expansion to try to play on people’s concerns and push their own agenda.
"The mayor urges Londoners to look at the facts about ULEZ, to read the evidence about the damage air pollution is doing to people’s health and to be cautious about those who are clearly scaremongering and spreading misinformation.
“Whether in London or in any other part of the country, dangerous conspiracy theories and abhorrent far-right activity should always be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
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