ULEZ – the case against

Friday, April 5, 2019 - 10:18
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Charlie Mullins, CEO and Founder of Pimlico Plumbers

Ahead of the Mayor of London’s introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) on Monday, Charlie Mullins, CEO and Founder of Pimlico Plumbers, the UK’s largest independent plumbing firm, makes the business case against it:

“I have been against the entire ULEZ proposal, ever since the words passed Sadiq Khan’s lips. The plan he’s implementing will have a crippling effect on the London economy. Businesses like mine are going to be left to stomach a damning cost, and all because of his quest to be seen as a clean-air crusader. I wonder if Khan has really considered and understood the potential cost in jobs of this whimsical piece of law making.

At Pimlico, I have a fleet of over 250 vans, 150 of which will very soon be deemed ‘non-compliant’. I’ve been under the impression that businesses should be allowed to ride out the lifespan of their vehicles, rather than be forced to scrap assets that will be instantly stripped of their value the moment Big Ben chimes midnight, on April 7, 2019? For whom the bell tolls? That would be us, the London business community.

If I put things into perspective for you, if I kept using my vans in central London, where we are based, it would cost me £908,000 annually in penalties – which is absurd! Replacing them on the other hand will cost my business even more, a whopping £4.5m. What SME can be expected to put down that kind of money to meet the Mayor’s mad and unrealistic ‘quick fix’ plan?

Don’t get me wrong though, I do completely agree that London needs to address its pollution levels – but this should be an organic process, where vehicles in use, realise their full expected lifespan.

Once older non-compliant vehicles end their useful life, all new ones will be fitted with Euro VI engines in any case. So, I don’t see why we’re rushing into this, when it’s just going to hit the backbone of the UK economy – businesses! It’s as if Khan is prepared to fast track the London economy down the drain, in order to claim some non-existent green award.

The sort of daily costs and payments people operating businesses in London are going to be expected to pay are ludicrous. We’re going to have people out of work and out of pocket, burdened with this hefty weight. Combine Khan’s clean air clamour with a good helping of Brexit uncertainty, and there’s no two ways about it – we’re on the road to a recession, albeit an environmentally friendly one!”


Charlie Mullins

Pimlico Plumbers


  1. This is something that should be taken up by the countries media and the Mayor of London should enforced to comment on the ridiculous pressure he in person is putting on London businesses.

  2. Charlie Mullins is right, no business can swallow the cost Sadiq Khan is forcing down their throats; that cost will have to be added to each and every customer living within the ULEZ area, because not every business can spend the kind of money required to constantly upgrade.

    Unfortunately, the cost becomes the cudtomer’s burden and bitter pill to swallow, they are the ones who voted for the business assassin, with his misguided, ill informed fix to a problem largely created by the planners in the first place.

    Why is the pollution rising? Because of more vehicles sat stationary in traffic jams; not just because of the pure volume of traffic but the poorly planned infrastructure of the road networks. For years roads have been turned into “one way” streets or “pedestrianised” wider pavements and “cycle lines” reduced areas for people to park their cars so are forced to continue crawling round in the ever slower and static moving traffic – more damage to the air quality is done with slower or static vehicles than better flowing traffic giving the wind to disperse the fumes keeping the air quality better than it currently is.
    Creating bottle necks around the City IS the root cause, businesses across the UK who operate in City Centres are being forced out – all due to street planning chocking the life out of the City’s in the name of safety for “Pedestrians” and “Cleaner Air”

    No SME wants to hike their prices like that, in fear of losing work – retailer prices in the London area will dramatically increase, poorer residents of London will suffer the most. These people like Khan living in his “bubble” MUST have looked at the situation and the options;
    • invest in the road infrastructure to give better vehicle movement “flow” to reduce idling engines increasing poor air quality.
    • charge the public and businesses for using their vehicles to force them off the road -(cutting the volume of traffic on the road)
    One option costs money, the other generate money..!
    One option means the Major of London will be unpopular if RATES rise to collect revenue to improve the road infrastructure, the other “makes believe” it is for the good of the people.

    It’s your opinion, it’s your City.

    So before you judge Charlie Mullins or any business owner who are rightly upset and aggrieved by what is going to happen this coming Monday morning; think about the down to earth working class people who do their very best everyday of their lives to provide for their families, who were born and bred for generations in London, they are the ones who are carrying the cost along with the SME’s. Not the people running/controlling London and going for cheap, quick fix options…but you can be assured they deliberated and debated it for some considerable time over expensive lunches, travelled to other countries on fact finding tours fully expended to come up with ULEZ the popular choice – definitely the cheaper for “City of London inc” and coming to other City’s around the UK… Nice to know where big chucks of tax payers money goes isn’t it?

  3. Removals companies have the same issue 80% of removals trucks will not be compliant.
    Which would you rather 1 older vehicle going into london to do 1 normal 2,400 cubic feet job or send a older vehicle 3.5 into london 8 times causing 8 times the congestion and 8 times the fuel as 8 trips just to avoid the £200 fine.
    8 times the parking issues.
    Now times this by 30 operators and now look which mayor caused more congestion more fuel more agro.
    The worst idea ever, london busses got financed through the Eu to be modernised meanwhile small businesses are penalised and not cared for in london anymore,
    We were told get diesel cars many years ago so we did then told petrol is better meanwhile government doesn’t repay us for the wrong advice in there favour.
    This is a bit like lorry mots where we have to drive upto 200 miles for a mot, if a new contract comes up you cannot get a mot in time so you lose the contract crazy. Meanwhile you have to drive upto 200 miles with no mot to get a test and waiste £100 fuel minimum to get a test.

  4. A point well made and written in terms that mean something. The London economy will sink to levels unsustainable. The general public will complain that any tradesman they hire has ‘ripped them off’ without understanding that this ‘tax’ has forced them to drastically increase their prices. Businesses that have vehicles on the Balance Sheet will suddenly find they are worth nothing, as no one will want to buy them. The secondhand vehicle market will collapse due to the lack of customers and oversupply of the market. This is just the tip of the iceberg and all because the Mayor WON’T listen !!!

  5. The ULEZ is not going to be the worst of this. They keep saying that the ULEZ will be extended in 2021 to north and south Circulars but in reality this actually happens in October next year. The Existing Low Emission Zone is to change to EURO V1
    so will already be ULEZ for any SME that operate LGVs . We would be looking at an investment of approx 5 million within 18 months and perfectly good Euro V s will be worthless.

  6. Well Said Sir. Put this up against the fact that the government have actively suppressed conversion kits for every vehicle type other than busses and coaches, then you have a conspiracy to put SME’s out of business.

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