Reform UK's West Yorkshire mayor candidate Waj Ali says a congestion charge is 'another form of taxation on the working people'

One of the candidates to be the first metro mayor of West Yorkshire has described a proposed congestion charge on the most polluting vehicles as "another form of taxation on the great working people" of the county.

Waj Ali, who is standing for the Reform UK party next month, said imposing a charge on certain vehicles to enter a 'clean air zone' would "put a greater financial strain on household incomes and business costs".

Waj Ali, who is standing for the Reform UK party next month, said imposing a charge on certain vehicles to enter a 'clean air zone' would "put a greater financial strain on household incomes and business costs".

The idea of a clean air zone to tackle pollution was developed in Leeds before being dropped but now looks set to go ahead in Bradford at the start of 2022. Sheffield City Council proposed a similar idea but it is now under review.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Read More

Read More
How the Sheffield trees saga could lead to Sheffield city council being run by a...

Reform UK, which has been rebranded from its predecessor the Brexit Party, is led nationally by Richard Tice, following the resignation of Nigel Farage earlier this year.

Having switched its line of attack from Euroscepticism to lockdown scepticism and calls for Covid restrictions to be lifted, Reform UK is now modelling itself as “a genuine third option” on the ballot paper next to Labour and the Conservatives.

And Mr Ali said the party was targeting voters who are fed up with mainstream politicians. His policies include ending rough sleeping within a year by converting empty local authority buildings or derelict private office developments.

And he says he wants to make sure West Yorkshire "will focus on preventing crime and catching criminals, not woke nonsense". Mr Ali told The Yorkshire Post that if elected he would take on at least 500 new police officers during his term from the mayoral budget.

On the subject of congestion charges, he said the measure was "another form of taxation on the great working people of West Yorkshire". He added: "Businesses have suffered enough with the impact of the lockdowns.

"We don’t need additional restrictions or constraints in place to limit business activity in the region. Any congestion charge would put a greater financial strain on household incomes and business costs.

"The official reports during the lockdown measures have shown that traffic volumes have considerably been reduced, improving air quality along the way and changing people’s behaviour and attitudes to the way they travel or commute.

"Many businesses are already allowing their company employees to work from home. Do we really need to put in place further restrictive measures which would potentially damage a reviving economy?"

In Bradford, the clean air zone is designed to encourage the use of cleaner vehicles by imposing a daily charge for vehicles that do not meet clean air standards, with non-compliant vans charged £9, non-compliant taxis £12.50 and non-compliant lorries, buses and coaches £50.

In common with many areas where such schemes are suggested, there would be no charge for private cars in the Bradford clean air zone.

In Leeds, the city's much-delayed £29m scheme was paused in August due to unexpectedly positive air quality levels. It was later scrapped because it was no longer necessary, due to businesses switching to cleaner vehicles faster than expected.

West Yorkshire's first metro mayor with powers over transport, housing and policing will be elected on May 6. The other candidates are Tracy Brabin (Labour), Stewart Golton (Lib Dem), Matt Robinson (Conservative), Bob Buxton (Yorkshire Party), Andrew Cooper (Green) and Therese Hirst (English Democrats).

Ms Hirst says in her election material that she will raise educational standards through targeting the £63m annual Adult Education budget available to the mayor at "specialist interventions for those most in need".