This morning Boris was in Erith, North Bexley, announcing a deal that he has has secured giving significant discounts for new vans and minibuses for drivers set to be affected by changes to the Low Emission Zone (LEZ).
I have long felt that the LEZ was at best a blunt tool and I was pleased that the Mayor understood the difficulties that small businesses faced getting their vehicle fleets to comply with the new emissions standards. Last year Boris delayed the implementation of phase 3 of the scheme to give businesses extra time to convert or replace their vehicles.
This morning he has taken another step to help businesses to avoid fines when changes to the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) come into effect in January 2012. In his usual style Boris said
‘Vans are the lifeblood of this city. Their drivers are knights of the road, an army of entrepreneurs who decorate our homes, fix our plumbing and generally provide all the vital goods and services essential to the smooth running of our city. This noble bunch is mostly small business owners and independent traders who are focused on grafting hard to support their families and build a better future.
‘The vast majority of people who are affected by these new changes have upgraded their vehicles and need not take any action. But for those remaining people I know these are difficult times and that their vehicles are essential for their livelihoods.
‘I want to do all I can to help. I have already given extra breathing space during the depths of the recession before these standards are introduced. But pollution remains a serious health issue and although we have seen off large fines that were looming from Europe, this remains a real threat unless we take drastic measures.
‘So I am pleased to announce I have secured a hefty package of discounts with major van manufacturers which will help Londoners trade up their vehicles to new, cleaner models. Now is the time to help us tackle dangerous emissions to help those who most deserve our protection. The health of our children is too important to put at risk.’
The manufacturers who are offering deals are: Ashwoods, Citroën, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot and Volkswagen.