Thursday, July 13, 2006

Congestion charge to increase to £25 for families

Yesterday, Red Ken announced his plans for greater revenue to his quango TfL under the guise of environmentalism. Livingstone said that he's going to make Central London a low-emmission zone and to do this he's going to start charging the owners of so-called "chelsea tractors", £25 per day to drive in the CC zone.

"'Chelsea tractors', many of which are responsible for some of the highest CO2 emissions of any cars on our roads, have to be dealt with.... I want TfL to look at lower congestion charges for cars responsible for lower than average CO2 emissions, broadly the retention of the current rate of £8 for most cars, and much steeper charges of perhaps £25 for the really environmentally damaging cars such as the so-called 'Chelsea tractors'."

There are a number of serious, and very fundamental problems with this plan. First up there's the issue of using generalised language to stigmatise a particular group. The so-called "chelsea tractor" is a catch-all phrase for anything remotely 4x4. The fact that so many of these vehicles don't actually fall into the range of emmissions that would result in a higher charge is ignored. Ordinary families who just happen to have a big, 4x4 looking car are thus being viewed as some sort of environmental pariah, when they're not.

The second problem is the claim that these car are the highest polluters. They're no more polluting however than many stupidly fast sports cars which also drive around places like Chelsea and the rest of the CC zone every day. However, apparently you're not an evil environment killer if you drive one of them because it doesn't look big and the chattering classes don't talk about you at the dinner parties they drove to in their hiugh emmission TVRs, Boxtsers, Subaru Imprezas, etc etc.

The third problem is more about where this is heading. Ken Livingstone claims that his target is to make central London (ergo the CC zone) a low emmission zone. This may sound laudable, however what happens to the congestion charge then? If everyone is driving low emmission exempted cars then CC revenue will plummet. He'll have two choices, either, make all those cars that were exempt, not exempt (likely, he's threatening it with LPG cars already). Or, move the charge further out and start charging families £25 a day to drive around the suburbs of greater London. Even if those people used their cars only two days a week, that would amount to an extra £2600 a year in Livingstone's coffers at City Hall.

There is also one final fourth problem. When the charge was brought it was apparently about cutting congestion. However, putting aside the independent research by the RAC that shows congestion levels in the zone have now reached the same as they were prior to the charge's introduction. It's now being argued the charge is tool in the fight to cut CO2 emmissions.

The number of times that Ken Livingstone has now lied about the Congestion Charge is, quite frankly, becoming a joke. He promised not to put it up before his election, then put it up straight after. He said he wouldn't do it again till 2010, it's just gone up again. He's trying to make out he's saving you money if you pay on the day rather than the next when in fact you're not, and now he's planning further increases on the grounds of a cars "look". More worryingly is that that the logical ends of his policy of low emmission zones is that the charge will have to move outward further and further as revenue dries up in the centre.

We have to get this man out of city hall.

14 comments:

Croydonian said...

I have long regarded much of the 'green' movement as being a cloak for class warfare - and this is just the starkest manifestation.

The Telegraph reports that among cars covered is a variant of the Mondeo.

Meanwhile, how about this for a classic Ken-ism (melodramatic, making up 'facts' as he goes along and claiming to know what Londoners collectively think ):

"There is a growing sense of concern among Londoners about climate change caused by CO2 emissions, which is the biggest single problem facing humanity and tackling this threat requires decisive action."

LondonVillage said...

Perhaps it wouldn't work so well in the centre of London but the idea still should not be dismissed. In the USA they have "High Occupancy Lanes" (HOL's), people with over 2 people in the car are allowed to travel in these lanes. Couldn't the same idea be applied here, if you have a full Chelsea Tractor then the carbon emissions divided between the 4 or 5 people in the car must be lower than one driver in an "ordinary" car?

dizzy said...

londonvillage, there is nothing wrong with indovidual carbon consciousness. Being sophisticated rather than broad btrush is not somethingg I am personally opposed too (I can't speak for Croydonian and Serf mind you!)

Giles said...

Actually, I think it is an excellent idea to charge more for giant petrol-guzzling monsters, especially when they're carrying just one person. From the office where I work I see scores of enormous vehicles going past every hour, normally just with the driver or - maybe - one or two people in them. It is outrageous that we as a city are, in effect, subsidising them and I'm glad something will be done. Now we just need to stop them from always coming in threes, and stop the bendy ones from catching fire.

Hang on, maybe I'm getting the wrong end of the stick here.

Wapping Boy said...

If Ken wanted to cut carbon emissions in a way that wasn't directed at those higher up the social (and evolutionary) scale, he could halve the number of buses that wander the streets of London, two thirds-empty and spluttering pollution into the air.

A soft socialist said...

I think this new congestion charge is excellent. Ken is fantastic.

Why anyone needs to drive a huge car round central london I don't know.

These cars guzzle a huge amount of petrol so green socialism in action by red ken.

Anonymous said...

I am in awe of his divine power to stop the CO2 emissions from outside the zone passing into his golden pollution free empire!
What utter nonsense this scheme has become.
It's a tax, simple as that, wrapped up in his usual eco babble that, of course, cannot be proven either way.

Anonymous said...

I am in awe of his divine power to stop the CO2 emissions from outside the zone passing into his golden pollution free empire!
What utter nonsense this scheme has become.
It's a tax, simple as that, wrapped up in his usual eco babble that, of course, cannot be proven either way.

Anonymous said...

I am in awe of his divine power to stop the CO2 emissions from outside the zone passing into his golden pollution free empire!
What utter nonsense this scheme has become.
It's a tax, simple as that, wrapped up in his usual eco babble that, of course, cannot be proven either way.

Anonymous said...

Part of Ken is admirable - he's at least got ideas and is not frightened by opinion to carry them out, unlike the muppets that run the government. Unfortunately his ideas always seem to cost other people money, i.e. us, without there being any perceived direct benefit. I dread to think what targetting a the spending power of 4x4 owners will do to the shops/businesses that are already suffering from a decline in turnover due to the CC. These people are not inclined to take the bus anyway, and will just go out of town. What do professional politicians know about running a small family business anyway ? Ken's a bit like a WAG - he lives on a planet where he feels he can frivolously tax us and spend the money on his personal socialist distopia (GLC v.2.0)

Caesar said...

Why do I dislike the congestion charge? Its simple:

1) When Ken Livingstone got into power he set about redesigning roads in London so that they generated more traffic jams and congestion. This is an ongoing policy (he eventually wants a Greater London congestion charge) and is a complete betrayal of the people of London.

2) All the money he has raised from taxing drivers has been utterly wasted. Ken Livingstone has not had the courage to acknowledge the car is an essential part of today's transport network and subsequently has not invested in renewable energy for cars. He has simply placed more cameras, increased government bureaucracy and upped the salaries of his employees.

3) The tube is only marginally better. The trick Ken Livingstone has performed is to take all the previous tube posters and add "Mayor Of London". Big deal. The improvements would have happened anyway (and for a lot less).

4) Businesses are the ones getting penalised most. Although the effects may not be obvious (especially to anyone who voted for Ken Livingstone), over taxation creates a "cycle of decline". What this means is that the costs of business grow, so they have to raise prices, so the consumer has to pay more reducing the level of disposable income of Londoners. Businesses migrate from London to cheaper locations overseas resulting in an economy that is very heavily service orientated, with fewer jobs.

5)The congestion charge was introduced to make driving more expensive than public transport. However surely it would make more sense to price public transport more competitively or even use the money from congestion charging to lower tickets prices. Yeah right. Ken is still upping the prices and making London less competitive internationally.

The real answer to congestion is to decentralise, but that's a story for another day.

Oralis Good said...

ANOTHER REALITY ABOUT THE CC ISTHAT MORE THAN HALF THE FINES IMPOSED BY TFL FOR A COUPLE OF TYRES IN A BOX JUNCTION OR UNDERTAKING ANOTHER STRESSED OUT LONDON MOTORIST BECAUSE HES TURNING RIGHT, AND DRIFTING MOMENTARILY INTO A BUS LANE, REMAIN UNPAID.
MAIN REASON FOR THIS IS THE LACK OF BAILIFFS TO RECOVER THESE UNPAID FINES.
IN THE FIRST FLUSH OF YOUTH FOR THE CONGESTION CHARGE, THE MILLIONS OF EXTRA FINES GENERATED WERE JUST TOO MUCH FOR THESE PEOPLE TO COPE WITH. THAT PLUS THEY WERE GETTING HIT BY BASEBALL BATS SO OFTEN BY IRATE MOTORISTS,THEIR NUMBERS PLUMMETED! THEY WERE GETTING OUT OF THE GAME IN DROVES.AND LONG MAY IT CONTINUE !!!!! I HAVE SOME FINES ON MY SHELF THAT ARE OVER THREE YEARS OLD.YOU GET ALL THE LETTERS. YOU KNOW THE TYPE. BIG BLACK AND RED LETTERS SAYING THE REMOVAL VAN IS ON ITS WAY TO TAKE ALL YOUR STUFF.EVEN IF THEY DID TURN UP, DONT OPEN THE DOOR. THEY CANT BREAK IT IN FOR SOMETHING AS TRIVIAL AS A TRAFFIC VIOLATION.
JUST GOT ANOTHER ONE TODAY.AND I M GOING DOWN THE MAGNA CARTA ROUTE WITH THIS ONE. SEE IF THE BLOKE FROM WEST LONDONS DEFENCE ACTUALLY WORKS. YOU KNOW THE ONE.YOU CANT GET ISSUED WITH A FINE OR PENALTY WITHOUT YOUR DAY IN COURT.ALL FIXED PENS ARE THEREFORE ILLEGAL.BILL OF RIGHTS 1689. HERE GOES NOTHING.

Oralis Good said...

ANOTHER REALITY ABOUT THE CC ISTHAT MORE THAN HALF THE FINES IMPOSED BY TFL FOR A COUPLE OF TYRES IN A BOX JUNCTION OR UNDERTAKING ANOTHER STRESSED OUT LONDON MOTORIST BECAUSE HES TURNING RIGHT, AND DRIFTING MOMENTARILY INTO A BUS LANE, REMAIN UNPAID.
MAIN REASON FOR THIS IS THE LACK OF BAILIFFS TO RECOVER THESE UNPAID FINES.
IN THE FIRST FLUSH OF YOUTH FOR THE CONGESTION CHARGE, THE MILLIONS OF EXTRA FINES GENERATED WERE JUST TOO MUCH FOR THESE PEOPLE TO COPE WITH. THAT PLUS THEY WERE GETTING HIT BY BASEBALL BATS SO OFTEN BY IRATE MOTORISTS,THEIR NUMBERS PLUMMETED! THEY WERE GETTING OUT OF THE GAME IN DROVES.AND LONG MAY IT CONTINUE !!!!! I HAVE SOME FINES ON MY SHELF THAT ARE OVER THREE YEARS OLD.YOU GET ALL THE LETTERS. YOU KNOW THE TYPE. BIG BLACK AND RED LETTERS SAYING THE REMOVAL VAN IS ON ITS WAY TO TAKE ALL YOUR STUFF.EVEN IF THEY DID TURN UP, DONT OPEN THE DOOR. THEY CANT BREAK IT IN FOR SOMETHING AS TRIVIAL AS A TRAFFIC VIOLATION.
JUST GOT ANOTHER ONE TODAY.AND I M GOING DOWN THE MAGNA CARTA ROUTE WITH THIS ONE. SEE IF THE BLOKE FROM WEST LONDONS DEFENCE ACTUALLY WORKS. YOU KNOW THE ONE.YOU CANT GET ISSUED WITH A FINE OR PENALTY WITHOUT YOUR DAY IN COURT.ALL FIXED PENS ARE THEREFORE ILLEGAL.BILL OF RIGHTS 1689. HERE GOES NOTHING.

Alan Wood said...

I fortunately live outside London but I am the owner of a Mitsubishi Shogun 4 by 4. It is the only car we own. It is needed for towing our caravan which is heavy. We have only covered 9600 miles total in a 3 year period but Brown as Chancellor said that as this car is a bad polluter the road tax has to go up to £300 this year and £400 next. What about the Eastern Europeans who are driving on our roads without paying road tax for at least 6 months legally?

Alan Wood