SCOTTISH Labour leader Anas Sarwar has criticised the handling of Glasgow’s low emission zone, which came into effect last week.

The LEZ, which aims to protect public health by excluding the most polluting vehicles from the city centre, has been met with mixed responses. 

Anas Sarwar, Labour MSP for Glasgow, told the Glasgow Times: “I think the Low Emission Zone in Glasgow is the perfect demonstration of when you want to do the right thing and you chase the headline, but you actually don’t do the hard work that is necessary to take people with you.

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“There has been very little support for people, particularly for low-income households and they have not looked at the exemptions required for charities.”

In particular, Sarwar highlighted the plight of Glasgow-based charity Homeless Project Scotland, which provides meals to around 300 people a night. 

The organisation said it was granted a two-month exemption from Glasgow City Council hours before the LEZ was set to be enforced.

Similarly, Scotland’s only first aid charity, St Andrew’s First Aid, has said it is in critical need of financial support to update vehicles over the introduction of the LEZ in Glasgow. 

Referring to Manchester’s Clean Air Zone, which Sarwar views as a “longer-term” plan to implement a low emission zone, the MSP said that “it would be a much more sensible approach for Glasgow to take”.

Sarwar added: “The principle is the right one, but once again, incompetence from the SNP - a failure to properly deliver a project - is disproportionately and negatively impacting people in the midst of a cost of living crisis.”

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The introduction of the LEZ means non-compliant vehicles will be faced with fines starting from £60 for entering the zone. The fine will be doubled for every subsequent breach, with a cap of £480 for cars.

Last week, a court bid by city centre business Patons Auto Centre to stop the introduction of the LEZ was rejected. However, businessman William Paton told the Glasgow Times that the legal fight continues as motor trade companies in the Townhead area are at risk of losing trade and jobs.

Glasgow City Council said the LEZ is “an essential measure to improve air quality and help protect public health, especially for those most vulnerable”. 

It stated: “Although we've made good progress in recent years to improve Glasgow's air quality, harmful nitrogen dioxide is being recorded in our city centre at levels that do not meet the legal requirements.

“Glasgow's LEZ can also help accelerate the uptake of less polluting vehicles, encourage people to move away from private car use and increase the safety, attractiveness, and amenity of our city centre.”

In 2017, an air-quality report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Glasgow more polluted than London.