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Emissions levy: Clerkenwell traders sniff a hit to their profits

Market stallholders warn that daily £12.50 charge ‘affects the people who can least afford it’

05 April, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Market trader Melek Zengingul: ‘They really need a shaking up. Otherwise small businesses will not survive’

ONE of London’s oldest markets will suffer as traders face rocketing costs with the intro­duction of the new Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) charge, according to stall holders.

Traders at Whitecross Street Market in Clerkenwell are bracing themselves for an extra £4,500 annual hit to finances as their delivery vans and cars face the ULEZ charge.

Several stalls have already left the market because of the daily charge of £12.50, which comes into force on Monday, with more planning to go as costs rise.

Colin, who runs the merchandise stalls outside Waitrose but did not wish to give his full name, said he has no plans to leave. He added: “It’s a charge that affects the people who can afford it least. Some people in City Hall, who have probably never driven a delivery van or worked in a market, have made the decision, and that’s that. We have to move with the times.”

Melek Zengingul, one of the few traders in Whitecross Street Market who does not sell food, said she is on her “last legs”. She added: “They really need a shaking up. Otherwise small businesses will not survive.”

Ms Zengingul bought an electric van, for about £16,000, so that she would be compliant with ULEZ rules.

But she says Islington Council will not let her park and use charging points close to the market because they are kept exclusively for residents and people who pay business rates.

She said: “I have been banging my head against the wall with this for so long. When I first approached the council with the idea of getting an electric van they said: ‘Yes, it’s a great idea.’ Then after I buy the van I find out I can’t park it here.”

Ms Zengingul has been trading at the market from Monday to Friday for seven years.

She bought a diesel van when they were promoted by the Labour government as an environment-friendly vehicle. But diesel vehicles are now blamed for producing high levels of nitrogen oxide pollution.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan brought forward plans to tax vehicles in the centre of the capital that produce high levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution.

Ms Zengingul now has to sit in her car for hours charging the van at privately-owned charging points.

She said: “It’s like I am being punished for trying to do what the authorities are telling me to do. I am planning to move out at the end of the year. The problem is that there does not seem to be the infrastructure or help for businesses trying to adapt.”

Unlike the congestion zone, which runs from 7am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, ULEZ will operate 24/7 every day of the week. Along with the congestion charge, it means motorists can pay £24 a day to drive in London.

A Transport for London spokesman said: “We are supporting businesses in their preparations for the ULEZ. Many have already made changes to reduce emissions. The Mayor has launched a £23million scrappage scheme to help microbusinesses switch to cleaner vehicles.”

Environment chief Councillor Claudia Webbe said: “I’ve asked officers to urgently contact our trader and work out how we can best help and support her. There are public electric charging points close to Whitecross Market that can be used by traders.”

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