A charity that supports London’s emergency services by taking care of vulnerable people’s dogs will not be granted an exemption to Ultra Low Emissions Zone charges, Sadiq Khan has confirmed.
Dogs on the Streets (DOTS) provides veterinary care for homeless and vulnerable people’s dogs – but says it has been forced to scale back its free, roaming vet services in the capital due to the cost of ULEZ and the congestion charge – coming to £27.50 a day in total .
Running a mobile vet vehicle and another used for transporting dogs has become “almost impossible” in London, the charity’s founder Michelle Clark told MyLondon.
READ MORE: ‘I have to pay £12.50 every time I turn left out my driveway’
DOTS has agreements with London’s emergency services – including the Met Police and five London hospitals – to take in dogs when vulnerable people are taken into hospital, custody, or emergency housing.
But despite desperate pleas with TfL and Sadiq Khan’s team, the charity has not been offered an exemption to ULEZ, which City Hall says is essential to reduce air pollution in the capital.
Retrofitting DOTS’ two non-compliant vehicles would cost the charity around £12,000, they say – leaving them forced to pay daily charges instead.
City Hall Tory leader Susan Hall however said DOTS were “offered nothing”.
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And Conservative AM Neil Garratt told MyLondon: “It’s clearly a mistake that the mayor’s two-year ULEZ exemption for charity minibuses doesn’t cover charity vans.
“I hope the mayor’s ego doesn’t stop him admitting that and fixing the mistake, because it’s such a simple thing that would make a great difference to the brilliant work that DOTS do, both the dogs and the people they support.”
Founder Michelle Clark said: “I’m sure we could do a fundraiser for the retrofits, but what thanks me so much is that the £12,000 could be spent on supporting our homeless, vulnerable and those suffering from domestic violence. It’s sickening.
“We have pulled back on our services, and we’re not taking vet vehicles into London now. We can’t provide all our veterinary care in a safer environment.
“And without the specialized vans, we can’t take lots of food, we can’t take all our essentials – blankets, coats, treats, and toys.
“We can’t carry blood tests or treatments securely on the pavement…So do we stop our vet care altogether and sell the vehicle? Many rough sleepers and vulnerable people will suffer.”
Ms Clark added: “I’m an asthmatic myself, so I understand the rationale for ULEZ. In which case, exempt us from the Congestion Charge. Or they could give us a grant for the retrofit. That would really support us.”
Sadiq Khan told the London Assembly last week: “Since 2017 there has been a wide-reaching awareness campaign to ensure drivers are ready for ULEZ, with over a million letters to non-compliant vehicles.”
He added there was no exemption for vehicles like DOTS’ vet vans, but that TfL offered funding to eligible charities who operate non-compliant vehicles, including via the scrappage scheme.
Mr Khan said: “DOTS chose not to take up these options…I’m sorry that a resolution hasn’t been found. However, it’s vital we clean up London’s filthy air.”
Dogs on the Streets says it is untrue that they refused help from TfL or the mayor’s office.
The charity is now only occasionally using a Transporter vehicle, and a small Ford Fiesta, as opposed to its previous daily rounds with two fully-kitted vet vans in the capital.
The mayor’s scrappage scheme fund now lies empty.
DOTS supports around 800 dogs across the UK.
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