ULEZ charge will ‘spoil last few years of my life’ says Hampstead pensioner who ‘can’t afford’ to buy new car

Pearl Kosky with her car. Picture: Harry Taylor

Pearl Kosky with her car. Picture: Harry Taylor - Credit: Archant

A blue badge holding Hampstead pensioner with a spinal injury fears says she will be priced out of driving her car when the new ULEZ zone is extended next year.

Pearl Kosky has lived in Studholme Court for 57 years. She has a disabled blue badge, after spinal fusion surgery in 2011. She walks with a stick, and can’t lift heavy items or walk long distances.

A fortnight ago she got a letter from Transport for London (TfL) saying, when the new Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) comes into place next year, she will be charged £12.50 for driving her car into central London because its age.

All cars that were built before 2005 will be eligible for the extra charge. Pearl bought her Toyota Yaris in 2000.

The charge comes into force on April 8, and replaces the current T-charge. In three years’ time it will be extended to the North and South Circular roads.

When that happens, Pearl will have to pay £12.50 if she drives her car anywhere at all.

Drivers who have their car registered with the DVLA as “disabled” or “disabled passenger” tax class are eligible for a “sunset period” up to 2025 to change their car, giving them more time to adapt to the changes.

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Despite being a blue badge holder, her disability doesn’t qualify her for getting a discount, unlike for the congestion charge because the threshold is higher. To register a car as “disabled”, drivers need to be getting the higher rate of Personal Independence Payment, the Disabled Living Allowance or armed forces related benefits.

Pearl says she can’t afford a new car or the extra charge. “I’m retired and live off my pension and savings. It’s a lot of money.”

Pearl said her car was her pride and joy. “I worked all my life as a secretary to save up and get this car, and now it’s like they’re going to take it away. It would totally isolate me if I didn’t have my car.

“This policy would spoil the last few years of my life.”

The move was revealed earlier this year by London mayor Sadiq Khan. He said the measures were part of a wider crackdown on London’s filthy air.

Paul Cowperthwaite, TfL’s interim director of licensing regulation and charging, said: “We carried out a full consultation on offering specific discounts for blue badge holders and following careful consideration decided people with a disabled tax class vehicle, which have usually been specially modified, will be eligible for a 100 per cent discount until 2025.”