MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
Mayor’s press conference which, not unnaturally, centres on Congestion Charging. He maintains it has been absolutely successful and there are no real problem with business downturn or customer service problems. My own view is that whilst a stunning success on reducing congestion – there are still a few question marks.
Firstly, the charging regime is very punitive. This shouldn’t be about catching out the honest – but simply charging people who still choose or even need to come into central London by car. 165,000 penalty notices a month are being issued. No way are all of them trying to dodge the charge. Casual users often simply forget and by the time they remember they are
whacked a huge penalty charge. I am suggesting that instead of penalties kicking in by 10pm on the day people should be allowed a further 24 hours in which to redeem themselves.
I want people to pay the charge – but it should be easy and not simply nab them for being human. Traffic measures should be about controlling bad behaviour, rewarding good behaviour and targeting the purposely dishonest.
Secondly, I don’t think that one year of a scheme this huge and this new is enough to be confident of the social, financial and business impacts of the scheme. That needs more time, more assessment and more analysis before moving onto other areas.
And thirdly, while the scheme isn’t there to raise money, the original projections of net income by Transport for London put the revenue stream at around Â£200 million net of penalty notices. In reality this is around Â£18 million. That throws a huge question mark over Transport for London’s ability to project the economics of transport schemes – which is worrying to put it mildly given the number of other transport schemes in the pipeline.