Press Release: The UK Government Should Follow French Lead and Ban Local Congestion Charges

The French government have swiftly reacted to recent riots and scrapped plans to introduce urban tolls or congestion charges as we know them (1).  It is not in the British driver’s nature to protest and riot but we urge the UK government to follow the French lead and scrap the rights given to local authorities to introduce local tolls and parking fees ad hoc with no regulation whatsoever.

Councils all over Britain are looking at plans to punish and fine those they perceive as ‘polluters’ with no scientific evidence of a problem.  These are often set to trap even recent ‘economy cars’.  This will be a disastrous effect of ‘localism’ and is totally unjustified.  The London ULEZ is already an example of this.  It must be stamped out now or the British habit of rolling over and accepting all could change come election time.



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Congestion Taxes Unpaid

Transport for London (TfL) have disclosed that in addition to running up bills of £500,000 in unpaid parking fines, which diplomats have avoided or delayed paying last year, they also have an outstanding amount of £96 million in unpaid “Congestion Charges”. That is a considerable amount which would make some difference to TfLs budget shortfall.

The new Mayor Sadiq Khan repeated the claim by his predecessor that this tax is actually a “service charge” which should be paid. But the embassies claim that as it is a tax, and as foreign embassies are exempt from taxes, they do not have to pay it.

There is a simple question to ask here. What service is being provided? In essence none so the embassies are correct to refuse payment. It was only rebranded a service charge to fool those who have been forced to pay it that this was not simply a money raising tax but something else. It is not.

So my advice to the embassies is: “don’t pay it”. And TfL should stop calling it a service charge and correctly label it what it is.

Roger Lawson