A petition opposing the expansion of Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) into Barking and Dagenham has gathered 1,700 signatures.

Claire Wadman, who collected the signatures from residents and business owners, said that many of the people she spoke to "weren't even aware what [ULEZ] is".

She said: "Half the people I've spoken to aren’t even aware of what it is.

"They’ve heard of it and they don’t understand what it is... because the information isn't out there…

"I've spoken to businesses, post offices, thrift shops, cafes, sweet shops, garages and one of them even said ‘I don’t even know what you’re talking about’.

“It was a mini cab office – I went in and he said ‘what’s ULEZ?’”

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Claire continued: "Everyone's suffered enough over the past three to four years.

"With the cost of the gas, electric going up, food prices, every single thing across the board has gone up and people just can't do it – they can't buy new cars...

"It's just not viable for outer London. Inner London is not too bad because they've got a great transport system."

Claire collected the signatures from February to the middle of April.

She originally wished to deliver the petition to Barking and Dagenham Council but was told ULEZ matters were not in the council's jurisdiction.

She said: "It feels like it’s some sort of punishment.

"It's going to destroy people's lives.

"Grandparents won't be able to visit their grandchildren because they can't afford £12.50 every time they come into the zone – it's just heart-breaking.

"I've heard so many sad stories.

"Local businesses are just saying 'we can't afford it, we can't afford a new car, we can't afford to pay £12.50'.

"It's just really sad that people are going to have to sell their cars, they can't afford a new car."

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A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: "The decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide was not an easy one for the mayor, but necessary to tackle air pollution and the climate crisis.

"Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year due to toxic air, children are growing up with stunted lungs and thousands of people in our city are developing life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma. 

"In Barking and Dagenham as many as 97 people lose their lives prematurely each year due to toxic air pollution. 

"We know the ULEZ works as it’s already allowed more than four million people to breathe cleaner air in inner London and harmful emissions have been cut by nearly half in central London."

The spokesperson added that nine out of ten cars driving in outer London are already ULEZ compliant and will not have to pay the charge. 

"Any net revenue received from the ULEZ will be reinvested back into running and improving London’s transport network, including the biggest ever expansion of bus routes in outer London," they said.

"For drivers of the most polluting vehicles, the mayor is delivering the biggest scrappage scheme yet - £110m - to help the Londoners who need it most, including charities, low income and disabled Londoners, micro-businesses and sole traders."