Scotland’s biggest council has spent almost a quarter of a million pounds of taxpayers’ cash on hiring vehicles to replace those it owns which don’t meet new anti-pollution rules.
Similar zones are to follow in Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh next year.
However, despite telling businesses and commuters that they have had ‘years’ to get compliant, Glasgow City Council had spent £236,000 by the end of August on vehicles to replace those in its own fleet which fail the criteria.
Despite criticism, the council has continued to spend public cash on renting vehicles to comply with its own rules – including a Ford six-seat crewvan, eight-ton DAF trucks, a Skyking 85-foot extendable platform vehicle and a Mercedes refrigeration van. It also hired more than 50 Ford Transits and 22 Vauxhall Corsas.
Glasgow City Council has dodged LEZ fines by hiring vehicles
Glasgow Low Emission Zone (LEZ) came into force on June 1, 2023.
One businessman whose auto repair centre has seen trade badly hit by the new zone, placing staff at risk of redundancy, described the latest figures as ‘an insult to all council taxpayers’.
William Paton, who is fighting the scheme and has gained a judicial review hearing due to be heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh next month, said: ‘The latest figures leave you wondering if, and when, this dreadful use of public cash will ever end.
‘Our business went to great expense to comply with the LEZ and all we asked for was some form of exemption for customer vehicles, which was refused.
‘To learn that the council is hiring in replacements and can just bill the public, demonstrates great hypocrisy.’
Meanwhile, Scottish businessman Paul McManus, who is also the drummer with rock band Gun, has pledged £100,000 towards Mr Paton’s fighting fund.
He said: ‘I believe this LEZ is a cynical stealth tax, levied by a failed and discredited city council administration, and which is aimed at, and has a significantly disproportionate effect on poor, low-paid, hardworking families.’
Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: ‘Whatever the arguments for Glasgow’s LEZ, it has considerable costs to the economy and people’s freedom of movement.
But the council haven’t even thought about how it would affect their own vehicles, which shows their disregard for ordinary Glaswegians.
‘To add insult to injury, they are footing the bill twice. Not just for themselves, but for the SNP-led council’s botched introduction of this scheme.’
Figures show that £138,000 was spent from July 17 up to the end of August on hire vehicles. That is on top of a £100,000 outlay since the scheme stated on June 1.
However, a spokesman for Glasgow City Council said the ‘net cost’ of hires since the LEZ was brought in is around £104,000.
The spokesman said: ‘Whilst some vehicles have been hired in the short term, the outlay has been offset by taking an equivalent number of older, non-compliant vehicles out of service in line with our planned fleet replacement programme.
‘Work is also under way to procure permanent, replacement vehicles through a longer-term contracting arrangement.’
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