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.'