Fleet News

London charging opposition mounts as D-day draws near

OPPOSITION to London's congestion charging scheme is growing in strength as the days tick by before the switching on of the with the network of cameras circling the City.

Arval PHH-owned KeyFleets, which specialises in contract hire packages for sub-100 fleets, has warned that small businesses will be unfairly discriminated against.

KeyFleet's managing director Vincent St Claire said: 'Congestion charging will cause smaller organisations major headaches as many of them do not have the resources to justify employing a specialist fleet manager. This means somebody will need to monitor all journeys into central London – with absolutely no help from Transport for London (the group behind the scheme). This is on top of the pressure already placed upon companies to fund the congestion charges in the first place.

'The administrative burden that will be inflicted upon smaller companies is unfair and actively penalises businesses with limited resources.'

The Greater London Authority Conservative group, which has consistently opposed the scheme, has pledged to dismantle it should it get into power and has mobilised a number of disparate groups, including the AA, London Ambulance Service, British Telecom, the Federation of Small Businesses, hospitals, schools, unions and even the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, all of whom have expressed opposition to the scheme.

And a group of motorists calling themselves Motorists Against Detection (MAD) has promised to 'wreak havoc' on the scheme, causing further headaches for fleets. The group disabled 29 speed cameras on the North Circular road last September.

However, London mayor Ken Livingstone has hit back at critics of his charging scheme, and has attacked the Post Office because it has demanded £1 million for processing payments – four times more than the amount originally agreed.

The resulting collapse of the deal means that drivers will no longer be able to pay the £5 charge at Post Offices. The Royal Mail claims that the added cost is due to a private contractor withdrawing a guarantee to underwrite costs if the charge was scrapped. An example of when this might happen is if the Conservatives won the 2004 mayoral elections.

  • The Association of Car Fleet Operators is reminding fleet managers they have until January 26 to register their fleet and avoid the £10 per vehicle fee for bulk payment. ACFO director Stewart Whyte claimed the offer could save some fleets 'hundreds and even thousands of pounds'. Visit www.cclondon.com or telephone 0845 900 1234 for further information on the scheme.
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