‘Ridiculous’ ULEZ fees stopping Suffolk grandad from visiting ill granddaughter
A Suffolk grandad with mobility issues has claimed that he is unable able to visit his family in London, including an incredibly ill hospitalised granddaughter with heart problems, due 'ludicrous' plans to extend the capital's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in August. Iain Buers, a former London bus driver who now lives near Sudbury, says he gets a "horrible feeling" that every time he sees six-year-old Charlotte, who suffers with serious heart problems, it could be the last. Mr Buers, 55, who medically retired from his job around 16 years ago due to suffering from reduced lung function, fibromyalgia, sciatica and arthritis, adds that he also feels isolated from his elderly 86-year-old mum and 87-year-old dad who live in Hornchurch, and Charlotte's mum, his daughter Harley, 28, in Dagenham.
Under the new rules, Mr Buers says he would incur a daily GBP15 charge to drive his 2002 petrol Volvo V70 automatic over the border into the capital. This would 'nearly double' his current GBP20 to GBP25 fuel cost to visit his relatives. Generally, pre-2005 petrol cars and pre-September 2015 diesel vehicles are non-compliant under ULEZ regulations, as MyLondon reports.
Read more:The four Suffolk banks closing in 2023 as Barclays makes announcement Mr Buers's income is around GBP550 per month - comprising GBP330 in personal independence payment (PIP) every four weeks and GBP200 employment and support allowance (ESA) every fortnight. His partner Pam, 52, works part-time as a care worker, and the couple has to pay full rent and full council tax.Iain Buers fears he will not be able to visit his family when the ULEZ expands in August (Image: Iain Buers)
Asked to describe his daily life, Mr Buers added: "I can't even walk to a bus stop.
Without the car, I'm housebound. It's just battling constant pain, anxiety and depression - it's a struggle. My mind wants to do things but my body says no.
It's very hard to motivate myself because I know whatever I do is going to hurt me. I've got a couple of good friends but the last time they took me out was just before Christmas, and on Saturday my partner took me down to see my mum. We also went to see my daughter briefly.
I don't know when I'll be down next." On the planned ULEZ expansion, Mr Buers added: "It's just another tax on the poor who can't afford it. It's ridiculous, those who can afford new cars can afford it - it's crazy.
When I went online and checked, it's actually GBP15 a day for me, not the lowest. It's just ludicrous. My partner's got a small car, but I struggle to go anywhere in it.
I'm a big bloke with back and knee problems, I need a bigger car to be reasonably comfortable. "It seems so unfair. It costs me between GBP20 and GBP25 to go to mum's and back, and with another GBP15 to drive in the zone, that's nearly doubling my cost almost.
I'm getting penalised because I can't afford a new car. It's crazy. Charlotte is living on borrowed time, I didn't think she'd last this long to be honest, but she's fighting it well.
We had a phone call this Christmas telling us she might not be coming out. "Every time I come away from visiting her I'm in tears because every time could be the last. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy - it's a horrible feeling."Mr Buers fears he will miss out on priceless time with granddaughter Charlotte if he cannot drive into London (Image: Iain Buers)
A spokesperson for TfL noted that the Mayor has "extended the grace period for disabled people on the standard mobility rate until 25 October, including for people who live outside of the capital".
Christina Calderato, TfL's Director of Strategy and Policy said: "Thousands of Londoners die prematurely each year as a result of toxic pollution and it causes children to grow up with stunted lungs and increases the risk of dementia in older people. "The London-wide ULEZ is vital in tackling the triple threats of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion, and will ensure millions more people can breathe cleaner air. Those outside the London boundary will also benefit, with drivers outside of the capital shifting to cleaner vehicles that meet the standards.
"In order to support small businesses, sole traders, charities, Londoners on lower incomes and disabled Londoners in replacing their older, more polluting vehicles with greener options, the Mayor has launched London's biggest ever scrappage scheme worth GBP110m. Unlike other UK cities, the capital has not received a penny towards scrappage from the government. That is why the Mayor has written to the Prime Minister to ask for further funding to match what has already been allocated to help support people who drive into London from the home counties with the most polluting vehicles."
- ^ MyLondon (www.mylondon.news)
- ^ The four Suffolk banks closing in 2023 as Barclays makes announcement (www.suffolklive.com)