Residents of a road which forms a charge-free corridor through London’s expanded ultra low emission zone (Ulez) say they have been offered “£100 a month” to let people park on their driveways and avoid paying the fee.
Motorists travelling along Moor Lane which becomes Bridge Road in Chessington, south-west London, do not have to pay the Ulez charge, but should they turn off at any stage they will immediately enter the zone.
People leaving the road to access a train station, pub car park and numerous businesses along the road will have to pay the £12.50 charge if their vehicle does not meet emissions standards.
It means motorists travelling along the route must stay on the road, drive all the way round a roundabout and go back the same way to avoid being charged.
The town of Chessington, part of the London borough of Kingston-upon-Thames, will be included in the Ulez expansion when it come into force from August 29.
Many surrounding areas will not be included in the charge, meaning Chessington will form something of a Ulez peninsula.
Vispi Irani, 68, who lives on Bridge Road, told the PA news agency a man offered him and his neighbours £100 a month to park on his driveway and make the most of the charge-free corridor.
Mr Irani said: “I think it’s ridiculous.
“We don’t have to pay it on the road where we live, but I’m planning on changing my car, so I won’t have to pay it for the others.
“A chap came round and put notes through my and my neighbours’ doors.
“He was offering £100 a month to let him park on our drive so he could get around paying the charge.
“I don’t know how he was planning to get here. I guess he would use public transport.
“We have a big drive so I gave him a call, but he didn’t answer.”
A Chessington business owner said being located on the border of the expanded zone had left his staff in a “no-win situation.”
Tony Oak, 46, has run a waste clearance firm in the area for nearly three years.
His business is based around 100m outside the new Ulez zone, but says all four of his employees will have to travel through it to get to work, and cannot afford to update their cars.
Mr Oak told PA: “My staff will have to pay £12.50 every day they come to work. That’s about £4,000 a year.
“They feel they are effectively working an extra hour for nothing.
“One of my employees is considering working elsewhere because of the added cost.
“We’re completely surrounded by the zone, it’s a no-win situation.
“There’s no bus you can get to here. The nearest bus stop is half a mile away.
“We travel inside and outside of the zone during work hours. That’s a cost we pass on to the customer.
“We can’t afford to get new company vehicles, it just all adds up.
“We’ve looked into electric vehicles in the past but they don’t have the range – we do too many miles every day.
“Then there’s the cost of having chargers fitted.
“I know a lot of the other businesses around here are having the same problem.”
A window fitter, who owns a salesroom just off Bridge Road and did not wish to be named, said he is unsure whether his premises is inside the zone or not.
He told PA: “Officially, we’re not in the zone but there’s a camera just across the road so it might catch you. I’m really not sure.
“Luckily, my van is exempt because of its age – just.
“Even though this road is not in the zone, you just can’t avoid it round here.
“It seems to only affect the poorest people.
“If you turn off to go to the shops or something like that you’ll be in the zone.
“Deliveries to my shop will be more expensive when we’re in the zone. The cost will go on our bill.”
David, 83, a retired health worker who did not wish to give his surname, lives in the new zone area.
He said: “What’s the benefit? It’s a money-making gadget.
“I know electricians who aren’t going to work in this area anymore because of the new zone.
“It’s all people talk about round here, they’re angry about it and moaning.
“If you turn anywhere off Bridge Road left or right you have to pay.
“People should have a choice.”