Effigy of London Mayor Sadiq Khan stars in Kent town’s bonfire night

An effigy of London Mayor Sadiq Khan became one of the stars of a Kent town’s bonfire night on Saturday.

Boos rang out among the crowd in Edenbridge as the 11m high figure became the latest celebrity guy, picked by the public, to be demolished by a mixture of gunpowder and flames – along with a traditional Guy Fawkes.

The effigy shows Mr Khan holding a Ulez sign and £15 tickets for London New Year’s Eve fireworks event, with various traffic signs on his clothing.

Edenbridge Bonfire Society (EBS), which has organised celebrity effigies for 25 years, said it aims to bring a “light-hearted twist” to the annual celebrations, which raise thousands of pounds for local charities and community groups.

The public in Edenbridge opted for Mr Khan to be the guy as London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (Ulez) hits residents and businesses in the town.

The zone, which operates within the M25 across all London boroughs, is about nine miles from Edenbridge.

Edenbridge Celebrity Guy
London Mayor Sadiq Khan was voted to become the 2023 effigy, beating other contenders such as Suella Braverman and Phillip Schofield (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The Ulez scheme first launched in 2019 to help clean up London’s air, and it discourages drivers from using the most polluting vehicles by charging them a daily fee to enter the zone.

Bill Cummings, the EBS chairman, said: “Unlike those living inside the new extended zone, there is no support for people who live outside it but whose livelihoods and commitments have been greatly affected by this decision.”

The Edenbridge guy has become a highlight of the bonfire season, with previous public figures put forward for ridicule including Liz Truss, Boris Johnson,  Donald Trump, Katie Hopkins, Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, Katie Price, Lance Armstrong, Anne Robinson and Saddam Hussein.

A parade, including a torch-lit carnival procession through Edenbridge High Street involving 550 people, was also part of the bonfire night events.

Earlier this week, Mr Khan said that expanding the Ulez has led to “cleaner air across London”.

He made the comment after a Transport for London (TfL) report showed the proportion of vehicles in the expanded area that comply with minimum emissions standards has risen from 85% in May 2022 to 95% in September.

Mr Khan extended the Ulez zone from everywhere within the North and South Circular roads to cover all London boroughs from August 29.

Restating that “the decision to expand the Ulez was very difficult”, he also said: “London is now home to the world’s largest clean air zone and this new data shows 95% of vehicles seen driving in London on an average day now comply with our air quality standards – a 10 percentage point increase since I began to consult on the Ulez expansion in May 2022.

“This will make a huge difference to the lives and health of Londoners.”