Green Dragon Head Calls for ULEZ Support for Schools

Says scrappage scheme treats state sector unfairly

Nadine O'Hara with Sadiq Khan at Green Dragon School in Brentford
Nadine O'Hara with Sadiq Khan at Green Dragon School in Brentford


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June 20, 2023

A Brentford head teacher has said more can be done to help state schools handle the impact of ULEZ. Head of Green Dragon Primary School in Brentford, Nadine O’Hara, raised concerns about the unequal treatment of schools under the scrappage scheme with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, after he made a recent visit to the school to promote better air quality.

Ms O’Hara cited private schools as currently having more flexibility and support under the scheme compared with state schools due to them having charitable status.

Charities operating in London will soon be able to apply for up to 3 vans and minibuses to be scrapped or retrofitted as part of the scheme, with many also eligible for a ULEZ grace period if new or retrofitted vehicles are not ready for the 29 August deadline.

State schools, which she says are more likely to struggle to afford replacing vehicles already in use, are not necessarily given the same luxury. However, Ms O’Hara says that after raising it with the mayor, he has promised to also give state schools the option to ask for a ULEZ grace period, meaning they won’t have to pay charges if new ULEZ-compliant vehicles, such as minivans, are not available on time.

She said, “It’s about mini-buses. If they don’t meet ULEZ requirements they aren’t currently, under the state school provision, entitled to the scrappage scheme, but what I have been told since then is there is a grace period for schools, like the NHS, it’s just whether that would be an option or not”

“I know there will be schools in Hounslow where that will be a factor and the schools won’t have the money to make the changes and so I think what would be great is if schools had that option (scrappage scheme).”

Another factor schools have to consider is the impact of ULEZ on teachers and parents. Ms O’Hara says although staff have not raised ULEZ directly with her as a concern she is sure it is ‘on their minds, because of the cost of daily charges’.

She adds, “I think it could be something that could factor in our community just because of the cost, so I think support for families and staff who work at school would be welcomed.”

Sadiq Khan with Green Dragon School children
Sadiq Khan with Green Dragon School children. Picture: Rory Bennett/ MyLondon

Currently, the scrappage scheme has no specific provision for public sector workers like teachers and no immediate support for state schools with non-compliant student transportation – something that the head teacher would like to see change.

She says that financial support and expansion of the scrappage scheme are paramount to helping teachers, families, and schools mitigate the negative effects of the ULEZ expansions.

She added, “I think it’s more the financial support or the entitlement to that [scrappage scheme] so that people are able to change their cars if they need.

“We have a lot of families that live very local and they walk or scoot to school but we certainly do have staff that drive to school and if their car isn’t ULEZ-compliant then it could be quite expensive for them to make that change.”

While schools struggle with the financial implications of ULEZ, issues around clean air are still very much at the forefront of Khan’s policy. Air pollutants are also something Ms O’Hara says she is concerned about, particularly the health effects it has on her pupils.

“We do measure air pollution levels around the school. It is a concern. It has gone down this year from the winter to the summer months. Certainly, the impact that it has on children’s health and wellbeing in terms of asthma, that is concerning.”

Mayor Sadiq Khan commented on the ULEZ expansion into Hounslow, saying, “The leader of Hounslow, Councillor Shantanu Rajawat, has been lobbying me to widen the eligibility of the scrappage scheme.

“I have recently announced that those that receive child benefit and there about 870,000 families that receive child benefit, 575,000 in outer London who will now be eligible to apply for the scrappage scheme, but also as a consequence of the lobbying from Hounslow Council I have announced that every small business can apply for the scrappage scheme. So that will mean that people in Hounslow will benefit from the scrappage scheme and the widening of the eligibility.

“It is those same people who are breathing in the worst air so the top 10 boroughs with the worst death rates caused by air pollution are in outer London and that includes Hounslow.”

Rory Bennett - Local Democracy reporter


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