Fleet News

London charge increase dubbed daylight robbery

LONDON Mayor Ken Livingstone has been accused of ‘daylight robbery’ for proposing that the capital’s congestion charge increases by 60% to £8 a day.

Livingstone said an increase was necessary to cut congestion by a further 5%-13% and increase revenue from £70 million to up to £130 million.

Since the £5 charge was introduced in February 2003, congestion has reduced by 30%, with 70,000 fewer vehicles entering the zone.

Commenting on the proposal, John Lewis, director general at the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association said: ‘Ken Livingstone’s proposed 60% hike in the London Congestion Charge is nothing short of daylight robbery.

‘When he introduced the charge, he said he ‘could not conceive of any circumstance in the foreseeable future where he would want to increase the charge, although perhaps 10 years down the line it may be necessary, given inflation’.

‘But here we are, less than 22 months on, and he’s going to whack it up by nearly two-thirds. He has once again taken the soft target of the motorist who has to drive into central London and hit him where it hurts most, below the belt and in the pocket.’

It has been suggested that the price increase could come into force as early as next July.

The move has been also been criticised by the RAC Foundation as a cynical attempt to raise more revenue.

Kevin Delaney, head of traffic and road safety at the RAC Foundation, said: ‘The £5 congestion charge scheme was very effective in reducing the number of vehicles entering the charging zone.

‘In fact, traffic levels and revenue fell below TfL predictions and are still much lower than they were in 2001.’

‘While a small increase to offset the cost of inflation is probably justified, the proposed 60% increase, based on the vague, unquantified assertion that ‘in time the traffic benefits may be eroded’, is wholly unjustified.

‘It will rightly be seen by motorists as a thinly veiled attempt to increase revenue from the scheme, rather than improving the quality of life of those who live and work within central London.’

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