LABOUR and the Tories are engaging in “cynical politics” over the introduction of a Low Emission Zone (LEZ), a Glasgow MSP has claimed.

Earlier this week, a row erupted just days before the LEZ in Scotland’s largest city was due to come into force, and the topic dominated FMQs after it was raised by Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.

The LEZ will only allow access to vehicles which meet certain minimum emissions standards, or who have been given an exemption, for a huge swathe of the city centre.

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However, despite being in the works since 2019, Glasgow Labour councillors called for the LEZ to be delayed by a year, much to the fury of SNP and Green councillors on the administration.

Labour councillors were branded “chancers” and an “embarrassment”, having previously called for the LEZ to be introduced earlier than planned, and voting for the policy at the committee which signed it off.

During FMQs on Thursday, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross attacked the LEZ and raised the example of Homeless Project Scotland, a charity which feeds 300 people every day in Glasgow city centre, who he said had been denied an exemption under the new rules.

However, shortly after FMQs it emerged that the charity had been given a time-limited exemption, albeit granted by the council the day before, on May 31.

Ross was told to correct the record in Holyrood, but later shared the clip of the exchange on his social media.

SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, Kaukab Stewart, (pictured below) told the Sunday National that opposition parties had “unfortunately decided to play politics with this”.

She said: “There is very little doubt that the levels of air pollution found in parts of my constituency, particularly the city centre, are dangerously high, air pollution that has a serious and detrimental effect on health.

The National: Kaukab Stewart is the SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin

“The new system was not sprung on anyone by surprise, the signage has been in place for many months now and there has been much press and media attention, letting people know where they should check if their vehicle is exempt or not - the majority of them are.

“This isn’t just an entirely workable system, which has been years in the making, but is completely necessary in order to simply protect the air we breathe in the city. It’s as simple and fundamental as that.

“Opportunistic opposition politicians can carp from the sidelines about delaying the implementation for this, that, or the next thing, but I think the majority of people see it for what it is - cynical politics.”

The Sunday National put Stewart’s claim of politicking to both Labour and the Tories.

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In response, Glasgow Labour group leader George Redmond (pictured below) said: “Kaukab Stewart’s disregard for the concerns of her constituents, businesses, charities and volunteers is deeply disappointing but unsurprising.

“The Low Emission Zone was proposed in good faith but in reality the current model will not work for the city.

“Charities and volunteer groups have raised alarm about how this change will work in practice, and how much it will cost them to continue their vital work across the city.

“Time is needed to prepare for the LEZ. We need Susan Aitken to listen to what she is hearing from her own city and pause the implementation of this zone.”

The National: George Redmond

A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “Homeless Project Scotland were initially refused an exemption and the two-month reprieve, while welcome, still means many thousands of pounds of the charity’s funds have had to be spent on a new vehicle to comply with this scheme.

“Douglas is grateful to Homeless Project Scotland for their supportive comments following FMQs as they were grateful their issues had been raised at Holyrood.”

The LEZ was 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, including a grace period of one year.

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