Corbyn backs councils to levy charges on drivers to tackle pollution

Councils across England have been urged by Jeremy Corbyn to introduce extra charges for drivers of polluting vehicles.

The Labour leader said he wanted other authorities to follow London in introducing measures such as the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which will see thousands of car drivers paying a daily £12.50 charge.

Mr Corbyn said the measure, being introduced by London Mayor Sadiq Khan from April, is a “wonderful thing and we want similar elsewhere”.

He said: “It’s working-class communities who suffer the most air pollution.

“It’s the poorest children in the poorest communities that suffer the most.

“The destruction of our environment is also a class issue.”

In a speech to Labour councillors he said Oxford, Southampton and Brighton “have led the way with a charter for cleaner air while others like Walthamstow have made great progress on cycling routes”.

He added: “Labour is absolutely committed to protecting our environment at every level.”

Mr Corbyn used his speech in Coventry to take aim at the Tory austerity he claimed was “ruining communities” as councils have struggled to fund vital services.

The Labour leader said local authorities had been made the “fall guys for austerity”, with the most deprived areas suffering the most.

In a speech to Labour councillors he accused the Conservatives of “brazenly rigging the system of funding” to favour wealthier areas.

He said: “Let’s be blunt: councils have been set up as the fall guys for austerity.

“The Tories in Westminster slash your funding then sit back and let councils carry the can.

“Since 2010 councils have lost half their real-terms funding from central government while at the same time, you know this as well as I, austerity increased the demand for services you are there to deliver.”

Mr Corbyn added: “If the Thatcher government ruined our communities by destroying industry, as they did, then the Cameron and May governments are ruining communities by destroying local government.”

Labour has set out plans to give council leaders a greater influence in Whitehall if Mr Corbyn wins the next general election.

A new local government commission, made up of council chiefs from across England, would meet with the communities secretary and other ministers under the proposal set out by shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne.