The Mayor of London’s office has accused a South London council of “science denial” and “offensive” Cold War comparisons after a councillor said the planned ULEZ expansion was like “resurrecting a new Berlin Wall”.

The Bromley Conservative Group have been accused of spreading misinformation by Sadiq Khan’s office after Conservative Councillor Will Rowlands spoke out about the Ultra Low Emission Zone which will see residents charged £12.50 a day from August to drive if their car is not compliant.

At a Bromley Council meeting on Monday, February 27, Cllr Rowlands said: “When shops, traders and our local economy are crushed as a result of Khan resurrecting a new Berlin Wall along our outer borders, it will be as a result of not supporting this administration, as it holds the mayor to account along with the four other local authorities trying to return democracy and order to City Hall.”

The councillor said that the “vile” expansion was punishing residents living in outer London, and would force hospital staff into exile.

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He said: “What we are now seeing is the unravelling of socialism in its darkest form, unleashing its sinister, bullyboy tactics to enforce conformity upon us all.”

At the meeting, Bromley Council agreed to oppose the ULEZ expansion and to label the statements from the mayor on the air quality in Bromley as “misleading”.

However, the Mayor of London’s office has now spoken out about comments made at the meeting and accused the councillor of  “stoking fear”.

A spokesperson said: “This is outrageous. In opposing our clean air policies, the Tories have gone from science denial to ridiculous and offensive cold war comparisons.

“The Tories need to stop stoking fear and spreading misinformation, and get behind our policies to clean up London’s air.”

The comments come after Bromley Council announced on February 16 that it had legally challenged the expansion in a coalition with Bexley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey County councils.

Conservative Councillor Colin Smith, leader of Bromley Council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service earlier this week: “We will not stand by and watch whilst small businesses are forced to the wall, others struggle to attract staff and Bromley residents have to worry about paying extortionate costs to simply visit loved ones or stop visiting altogether, because they simply cannot afford to do so, especially at a time when some households are already struggling to make ends meet.

"That is why we are taking legal action and I thank everyone who has been in touch to date for their support.”

He added: “We believe that were we to lose at court, the one-off legal fees, which would cost approximately £1 for every household in the Borough are a risk well worth taking, to potentially save tens of thousands of Bromley residents, spending quite literally thousands of pounds every year moving to the future and local businesses even more by being forced to by new vehicles costing upwards of £30k each.”

A Mayor of London spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Toxic air leads to the premature death of thousands of Londoners every year, stunts children’s lungs and causes dementia, heart disease and other serious illnesses.

"Data collated by Imperial College London shows that as many as 204 deaths are attributable to toxic air each year in Bromley alone.

"The Mayor is expanding the ULEZ London-wide so millions more people can breathe cleaner air.”