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Sadiq Khan U-turns on £15-a-day congestion charge

·3-min read
Transport in London (PA Archive)
Transport in London (PA Archive)

Sadiq Khan was on Wednesday plunged into a row over keeping the congestion charge at £15 a day.

The cost of the charge increased from £11.50 to £15 in June last year as part of the Government’s emergency funding deal for London’s transport network. It also become enforceable until 10pm seven days a week.

Although Mr Khan and TfLinsisted this change would be temporary, TfL has now revealed it intends to keep the £15 charge but reduce the hours it operates to “support the capital’s culture, hospitality and night-time businesses”.

The charge would also be retained for part of the weekend. Under the new proposals, the £15 charge would be in effect from 7am to 6pm during the week and from 12pm to 6pm at weekends.

The new charging hours, out for public consultation, would come into force on February 28.

Mr Khan said: “As we look to the future it’s vital the charge strikes the right balance between supporting London’s economic recovery and helping ensure it is a green and sustainable one.

“These proposals support the capital’s culture, hospitality and night-time businesses which have struggled so much, as well as encouraging people to walk, cycle and use public transport.”

There would be no charge between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, while weekend hours would apply on bank holidays.

During the mayoral election campaign, Mr Khan suggested he intended to abandon the £15 charge and scale it back to a weekday levy.

Shaun Bailey, the Tory London Assembly Member who challenged Mr Khan for the mayoralty, said: “By keeping the charge at £15, he’s taxing London’s recovery and putting livelihoods at risk.

“Instead of pretending this will help Londoners, Khan needs to get a grip of TfL’s finances and lower the charge back to £11.50.”

Michael Lloyd, London Infrastructure chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Whilst we understand the financial predicament facing TfL, now is not the time to penalise small firms who are struggling under the sheer weight of doing business.

“The move to support the night-time economy by removing the congestion charge in the evening is welcome, however, for many businesses who carry out activities in the day on the weekends, having a permanent £15 charge between 12pm to 6pm on weekends will be another bitter pill to swallow.”

But John Dickie, chief executive of business group London First, said: “As we bounce back from the pandemic, it’s right to reassess the congestion charge operating hours.

“Londoners want to get back into the capital, so it’s good that TfL is making that easier while ensuring the city can keep moving.”

The increased charge has so far netted TfL an additional £155 million in revenue, Mr Khan revealed to the London Assembly this month.

TfL must make savings of £300 million this financial year.

Last month saw more than 2.4 million vehicles pass through the c-zone during charging hours, the highest number since March 2017.

According to TfL, congestion in London cost the economy £9.5 billion in 2017.

Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, has said that the new proposals are a “balanced package of measures” that will be “vital” to supporting the logistics industry while “encouraging people to walk, cycle and take public transport”.

Londoners can have their say on the proposed changes by visiting TfL’s website where the public consultation will run until October 6.

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