Fleet News

Fleets face extra tax in road user charge plan

FLEETS have been given a nightmare vision of the future in a new study into road user charging in London. Motorists, including fleet drivers, will have to fork out millions of pounds in extra taxes for any scheme to work, with no exceptions for essential user fleets, delivery vehicles or lorries.

Business support group London First has produced with consultancy Halcrow Fox what is claimed to be the first truly workable model of a road-user charging scheme, which it claims could be implemented by 2002 at the latest, within months of a new mayor for London being appointed. The document has been sent out to London First's 300 members for consultation and if it is approved will form part of a manifesto presented to all the candidates in the race to be Mayor of London.

Under the London First plan, car and van drivers would pay £5 a day to enter the charging zone, which is proposed to cover much of London north of the River Thames, while light lorries would pay £10 a day and HGVs £15 a day. Essential user car and van fleets would have to pay up at the full rate. Residents would have to fork out £104 a year for an annual permit. The charges would be expected to slash traffic in central London by 10%-15%, but at an overall cost to motorists of approximately £200 million in extra taxes. Of this, about £140 million would come from cars, including essential-user fleet vehicles, and up to £60 million from commercial vehicles.

The report said: 'We recognise that road pricing is a highly emotive issue especially to residents in or near the area where charging would apply, to commuters and to businesses. No one can predict the exact impact of such a scheme. There will need to be 'give and take' in order to make it work. It is also not a panacea to solving congestion.'

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