TfL faces legal challenge over ‘punitive’ rise in Congestion Charge
Campaign groups FairFuelUK and the Alliance of British Drivers are seeking to legally challenge the Mayor of London and Transport for London over the temporary 31% hike in the London Congestion Charge.
While both the Congestion Charge and the Ultra Low Emission Zone were suspended on 23 March to help key workers, TfL announced two months ago it was reinstating them – and increasing the Congestion Charge by 31% as part of a bail-out.
The temporary increase kicked in on 22 June and saw the Congestion Charge rise from £11.50 to £15 and increase hours of operation to 7am-10pm seven days a week while the residents’ discount closes to new applicants on 1 August.
TfL said that the Congestion Charge temporary increases were vital to keep the city moving and latest data has stressed that even with the Congestion Charge back in place and many people still working from home, there are as many cars in the zone as there were before the lockdown began; likely the result of reduced use of public transport.
TfL says the Congestion Charge changes should equate to trips taken by car reducing by a third, with nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions falling by up to 11% in these newly charged hours.
The Freight Transport Association has already slammed the temporary increase for its impact on logistics businesses and now lawyers on behalf of FairFuelUK and the Alliance of British Drivers have delivered a Pre-Action Protocol Letter to Greater London Authority and Sadiq Khan.
Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK Campaign, said the changes were hitting motorists unnecessarily and even harder in the pocket.
“In this time of worry for all of us, why did the Mayor not consider, taxing river, air traffic, construction machinery or other sources of pollution? Surely these are more competent and fairer ways to raise the cash to fill his fiscal black hole.”
The letter also asks for evidence for choosing the figure 31% as the amount to increase the congestion charge and whether the funds will be used to pay off TfL’s debt or to reduce congestion and emissions.
It also calls for details of how long the temporary increase in the congestion charge will be and how industries in the capital will be hit.
Research carried out by both organisations has revealed huge support from drivers for the legal challenge but also significant opposition from cyclists. Carried out between 8-12 July, the poll received 25,769 responses and found that 80.9% of drivers supported the move but 91.3% of cyclists were against it. Details of who was polled have not been supplied.