An animal rescue centre in South London is trying to raise £25,000 for a new animal ambulance, as their current van will see them being charged £12.50 a day to use under Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) regulations. Foal Farm, which stands for Friends of Animal League, has started a campaign to raise funds for a new van to transport neglected animals in need of help.
The animal rescue centre in Biggin Hill, Bromley, was started over 60 years ago to take in unwanted animals and restore them to good health, including cats, dogs, rabbits and a variety of farmyard animals. Denise Hodge, commercial operations manager for Foal Farm, said that the farm’s current 12-year-old van is an essential tool for the charity, which rehome about 500 animals every year.
Ms Hodge told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “It’s used almost every day for routine operations, all sorts of checkups and to take them down to the vet or any medical emergencies. It’s also used to go and collect animals from situations where they’ve been in a poor environment or have been neglected.”
The commercial operations manager said staff could drive as far as Ashford or the Midlands to collect animals at risk. Lucy Bennett, finance manager for Foal Farm, said most of the farm animals that the centre receives are saved from slaughter. She said staff also regularly find animals left abandoned at the front gate of the farm.
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Ms Bennett said: “The lambs we had in were literally found by the side of the road. One had a broken leg and could barely walk, one had been attacked by a dog… They’ve all got different stories, they’ve all come from various places.”
From August, people in outer London will have to pay £12.50 a day to drive under the ULEZ expansion scheme if their car or van is not considered environmentally friendly enough. Aside from the cost of upgrading their animal ambulance, Ms Hodge said the charge will also impact staff and volunteers who work at the farm.
She said: “The other way it’s affecting us is obviously we rely on volunteers. We’ve got a lot of volunteers come to help us out on a regular basis, either working with the animals or in the shops and the tearoom. And unfortunately, a few of them have said that they won’t be able to come anymore because they don’t mind giving up their time coming along, but once it starts costing them money to get here, they’ve said that they won’t be able to sustain that.”
The farm is hoping to raise £25,000 to buy a four-year-old ULEZ-compliant van with the necessary fittings for animals, with a £40,000 stretch goal for a newer van with more sophisticated features. Ms Hodge said that despite the Mayor of London’s scrappage scheme for updating older vehicles, the charity would only be offered £5,000 to trade in their current van.
Ms Hodge said: “It’s what it’s like for everybody with the cost of living. Everything is going up, our energy bills are three times what they were last year. Vet fees have all gone up. Food has gone up, everything has gone up. So this is just one more thing that we’ve got to try and raise money for. We get no government funding at all.”
Ms Bennett added: “It’s happening whether you like it or not. We can do our best to fight it, but it’s happening. So we basically have got to plan ahead and be prepared. And for us, that means making sure we have got an ambulance that we can use and not get charged for every time.”
The High Court announced on April 12 that it had granted permission for a coalition of councils to legally challenge the Mayor of London’s planned ULEZ expansion. Included in the coalition is Bromley Council, along with Bexley, Hillingdon, Harrow and Surrey County councils.
Conservative Councillor Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council, said in a statement: “There is still time for the Mayor to pull back and take a more considered approach which takes outer London’s differing needs and circumstances into account and I call upon the Mayor publicly once again to do precisely that, not just for the good of due process, but most of all for the benefit of all those threatened by the horrendous daily cost of his proposed tax, particularly upon those least able to pay.”
The Mayor of London was approached for comment but had not responded at the time of publication. A link to the crowdfunder to raise money for a new animal ambulance for Foal Farm can be found here.
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