Tories have labelled the Mayor of London’s extension of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London a “stealth tax on the poor”.

Plans to extend the zone up to the North and South Circular roads by 2021 were slammed by Conservatives, who claimed the £12.50 daily charge to enter the zone would hit the poorest, who cannot afford to upgrade their vehicles, the hardest.

But Labour members fiercely disagreed, saying the price of losing up to 9,500 Londoners each year to respiratory diseases caused by poor air quality is not one worth paying.

Cllr Linda Huggett presented a motion calling for a rethink of the scheme at full council on Thursday night.

She said: “This is a well-intentioned scheme to clean up our air, there is not an argument about the need for us to do that, but presently the plan is fundamentally flawed.

“The everyday consequences for Redbridge residents will be huge. It will amount to £62.50 a week.

“Residents might not be aware of the severe financial impact and everyday impact this extension will bring to them, we are trying to spread awareness.

“We have other recommendations for improving air quality. The cameras alone to enforce this scheme will cost up to £800 million.”

But Labour councillors rallied in support of Sadiq Khan’s plans, saying it has been left up to local councils to pick up where government policy has failed.

Cllr John Howard, cabinet member for civic pride, said: “I am not angry, I am just disappointed. ULEZ aims to get old bangers off the roads.

“We would call for a diesel scrappage scheme to really make a difference. I am proud of having a mayor who is actually doing something to tackle air pollution.

“Our children are the most vulnerable to air pollution and we must protect them.”

He added that the Government’s new air quality strategy released earlier this week does not go far enough.

Across London, air pollution levels have sat above legal limits since 2010.

Cllr Jo Blackman, of Wanstead Village ward, echoed the cabinet member’s views.

She said: “It is down to us to take concrete action. Three years is plenty of time for the Government to bring in a diesel scrappage scheme so the most vulnerable can afford to exchange their old cars for newer, cleaner models.

“This Conservative government has shown a complete abdication of responsibility on air pollution.”

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of the council, added: “This is a prime example of national government kicking the can down the road.

“That isn’t a political statement, it is factual. If we do not tackle this problem, it is the vulnerable who die first – those who cannot afford to buy a mansion further away from busy roads.”

Conservative Cllr Michael Stark said he was sad not to be able to support the Mayor’s scheme, which he labelled “heavy handed”.

Cllr Linda Huggett added: “Why can’t we have cross-party support for a rethink these plans, like Enfield already have done?

“Enfield Labour and Enfield Conservatives have written to the Mayor asking for it to be looked at again.”

The Conservatives motion calling for the Mayor to change plans to extend the ULEZ in 2021 was defeated by 48 votes to 11.