GLASGOW Labour councillors have been branded “embarrassing” for U-turning on the introduction of a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in the city centre.

On Monday, the Glasgow Labour group posted on Twitter demanding that the LEZ is delayed by a year - so that workers and businesses have “more time to prepare” - just days before the policy will go live.

The post spread quickly online, with opposition councillors from the SNP and Scottish Greens pointing out that the party had repeatedly changed their mind on the policy.

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The LEZ is being introduced in a bid to reduce emissions in the city centre, which are predominantly caused by road traffic. The first stage of the policy was introduced in 2018, with the second phase starting on May 31 last year, with a grace period of one year.

This ends on June 1, with enforcement for any vehicles which do not abide by the emissions rules. Motorists who do not comply will face penalties.

Writing on Twitter, the Glasgow Labour group said: “This Thursday the Low Emission Zone will be implemented.

“We are calling for a delay in the implementation of the LEZ so that charities, businesses and workers can have more time to prepare as the cost-of-living crisis continues.”

The party also shared a graphic with a photograph of group leader George Redmond, who said: “We’re calling on Susan Aitken to put the city of Glasgow first for once - work with the city businesses and community groups and introduce a fairer LEX system next year.

“It is not too late for the council to delay the scheme for 12 months to give businesses and charities more time to prepare.”

As the party turned off comments, social media users and opposition councillors took to resharing the post to accuse the group of hypocrisy.

Many pointed out that introducing a LEZ was a manifesto commitment from the party at the previous council elections.

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At the meeting of the City Administration Committee, where the LEZ plans were agreed on March 10 last year, Labour did call for the scheme to be amended so that "enforcement of non-resident entry restrictions" would not be introduced until June 1 2024. 

However, the scheme was approved by votes from 13 councillors on the committee, including Labour. 

SNP councillor for Baillieston Alex Kerr (pictured below) said that the U-turn was "classic Labour". 

He told The National: "They’re in favour of a policy until three days before implementation, this is a policy that is going to improve the health of Glaswegians across city."

The National:

Kerr pointed to statistics which indicate Glaswegians are 25 times more likely to die from respiratory illnesses caused by vehicle emissions in the city centre than by being involved in a car crash. 

"That is the stark reality of this, Labour is playing politics with an issue actually affecting people's lives," Kerr said. 

"Any delay does not come without health consequences for people who live in Glasgow."

The SNP’s Malcolm Mitchell, councillor for Garscadden and Scotstounhill, said: “Labour promised to deliver LEZ in their manifesto.

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“They also voted for it at committee. Now they do a 180 a few days before it's introduced.

“The biggest chancers around.”

Glasgow’s SNP group added: “What a crowd of hypocrites Glasgow Labour are.

“Not only did they previously attempt to introduce the LEZ a year before its implementation, in October they shifted position again to vote for June 1st.”

Allan Casey, SNP councillor for Dennistoun, added: “Glasgow Labour flip flopping all over the place on the introduction of the LEZ.

“They voted recently for the full implementation on June 1st and for our exemptions policy but a couple of days before the implementation they ask for a delay. All over the place.”

And, Scottish Greens councillor Blair Anderson blasted: “You voted for this! Repeatedly! It was in your manifesto!”

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One person added: “That would be the Low Emission Zone yous voted for aye? Good work staying consistent Captain U-turn.”

Labour councillors attempted to defend the policy following the backlash.

Stephen Docherty, Labour’s councillor for Langside, said: “The LEZ impacts [mainly] small to medium-sized businesses & private car owners.

“If you have a diesel vehicle older than a 2015 plate this will impact you. If you don’t have the finances to upgrade your vehicle then coming into Glasgow city centre is going to cost you.”