Handyman whose business is hit by Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion protests walking around London with a license plate on his back to confuse the cameras
- Engin Coban says Ultra-Low Emission Zone expansion will hit him hard
- The 48-year-old house in Catford is currently half a mile from the limit
A handyman whose business is set to be hit by Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion has started a protest on foot wearing a license plate on his back to confuse the cameras.
Engin Coban lives half a mile from the current Ultra Low Emission Zone border and already has to pay £12.50 a day for his three non-compliant vehicles to travel to London.
The 48-year-old says he can’t escape it as most of his handyman work is done in central London, although the introduction of the charge has forced him to take jobs closer to home to avoid paying it.
But now he says the proposed expansion of the program would mean he couldn’t do his job at all without paying the fees and he can’t afford to buy a new ULEZ-compliant van, which puts him would cost over £12,000.
Mr Coban, who has lived in Catford for 38 years and has been a handyman for 16, started his own ‘peaceful protest’ by walking around with his number plate strapped to his back to deliberately set off the cameras and cause headaches to those who implement the fines.
Engin Coban, who works as a handyman, says proposed ULEZ expansion will hit his business hard
The 48-year-old launched a “peaceful protest” against ULEZ’s plans by walking past cameras while wearing a license plate on his back.
He told My London he had been doing this since March 2, in a bid to cause more work for TfL by triggering a fine which should then be reversed after review, although he has yet to receive one.
He said, ‘Why do their [those working on ULEZ] easy life when they make my life difficult? »
“I’ve seen people talk about breaking ULEZ cameras but I don’t want to do anything illegal. But these changes are destroying my livelihood, so I thought I had to make their life a little harder.
“I guess a computer now recognizes the license plate, but imagine if thousands of people joined in and flooded the system and did the same thing I did.”
He added that none of his three current vehicles – a van, a car and a motorcycle – are ULEZ compliant, and that he cannot afford to spend £12,500 on a new van, so that the cost of compliant used cars has gone up.
Mr Coban said: “I live 100 meters from the current ULEZ border, when the current border was put in place I had to completely change my approach to business. Before, I worked around 90% of the time in central London.
“I changed that when the ULEZ border came before, deciding to work on jobs closer to my area. I charge £40 an hour, after charging £12.50 for an ULEZ charge then a congestion charge, I would work for free.
The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which currently covers central London, is set to be extended
The controversial plan was presented by Mayor of Greater London Sadiq Khan (pictured)
“But now the new border will include my local area, what should I do now?” Leaving London? Leaving a clientele I’ve built up over 16 years because I don’t want to pay £12.50? »
The frustrated businessman said he faced the unenviable prospect of having to pass on the cost of the ‘fake tax’ to his customers, despite not having raised prices in 16 years.
He said: “I fight, I’m an honest person, I try to do my best. Everyone’s costs are going up, and if I raise my prices, I feel like I’m pushing the problem forward and part of the problem. It doesn’t help anyone.
“ULEZ is a bogus tax, it’s not about pollution it’s about money, in my ideal world ULEZ would be phased out completely.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year from toxic air, with the highest number of deaths attributable to air pollution in the outer boroughs of London.
“The extension of ULEZ outside of London will help five million more Londoners breathe cleaner air and improve the health of Londoners.”