A woman who stumbled across a damaged ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) camera covered with an orange “no Ulez” sign in Harefield in Greater London said the Ulez charge is “too harsh”.
AJ Simpson, 36, from Wimbleton, told the PA news agency that she was returning from a day’s work as a children’s entertainer on Monday when she saw the downed Ulez camera.
Ms Simpson said: “I was just going down the road and I noticed it was on the floor, but there was a bit too much traffic on that particular road and so I just turned around and came back again and took a photo of it.”
She posted the photo to Facebook with the caption: “Someone really didn’t want the ULEZ camera in Harefield.”
She said she was “amused” by the sight because “normally, people just cut the cameras off completely but this one had been given a mask basically.
“They’ve covered the top of the head of the camera and they’ve chopped it down completely and I’m thinking, ‘wow, this is something isn’t it’.
“This was in the middle of nowhere. There’s a truckage yard really close to there so I feel sorry for that guy who owns it.”
Anti-Ulez vigilantes have repeatedly targeted enforcement cameras in recent months and protesters have taken to the streets to voice their opposition to the Ulez zone, which was expanded to London’s outer boroughs on Tuesday.
Drivers travelling in the zone in a vehicle that does not meet minimum emissions standards are required to pay a £12.50 daily fee or risk a £180 fine, which is reduced to £90 if paid within 14 days.
Footage has circulated on social media showing people described as Blade Runners cutting the cameras’ wires or removing the devices.
The Metropolitan Police said it had recorded 288 crimes relating to the cameras as of August 1.
Ms Simpson said: “I do believe that, yes, we do need to be careful about the amount of emissions that we’re having but you don’t need to charge people for it.”
She said the £12.50 daily charge is “a lot of money for people, especially with the price of electricity, gas, and everything else going up and then people have got to change their cars.
“Yes, we do need to look into it but not like this. This is too harsh.”
Ms Simpson said that the people damaging and stealing Ulez cameras are “not hurting anybody”.
She said: “It sounds harsh, because I shouldn’t be saying these people can go out and do what they want to do, but it’s not actually hurting anybody.
“Yes, it’s making the Government pay more money towards fixing them but they’re making the general public pay money to go to work.”
Ms Simpson said she lives in Wimbledon and “none of our cameras are getting touched”, which she speculated was because “maybe we’ve got a lot more street cameras” that deter people from damaging the enforcement cameras.
She said she was “upset” that her father had to get rid of his van because of the cost of travelling in Ulez areas.
She sad: “My father had to get rid of his van. He’s a builder and he’s been a builder in Wimbledon for 20 years.
“That’s his livelihood, travelling around London, going through London, going to every job.
“That’s a lot of money. I know builders do make money but we have to charge a lot to cover our costs that everything else has been piled onto.”
She asked: “Why can’t the Government put money towards maybe figuring out how to make the emissions better on older vehicles instead of scrapping them?”