The two campaign groups have teamed up to take on the might of TfL and the Mayor of London on the following issues related to the C-Charge.
- FFUK and ABD have through their Lawyers at Black Antelope delivered a LETTER BEFORE CLAIM / PRE-ACTION PROTOCOL FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW to Greater London Authority and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
- This is a Pre-Action Protocol Letter against the decision of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (“the Mayor”) taken on 15 June 2020 to temporarily and exceptionally vary the Congestion Charge (“CC”) with effect from 22 June 2020 until further notice (“the Decision”). Specifically, the Mayor has taken the decision to:
- Increase the C-Charge to £15 per day from £11.50 (a 31% increase);
- Extend the operating hours of the CC from 7.00am to 22.00pm every day from 7.00am to 6.00pm Monday-Friday (an increase of 68 hours per week);
- Close the residents’ discount to new applicants from 1 August 2020 on the basis that it will act as a deterrent on car ownership in Central London.
“He only consults with his supportive stakeholders behind so called ‘exceptional circumstances’ to hit motorists unnecessarily and even harder in the pocket. He encourages us to drive during the Covid crisis, then with no supportive evidence to do so, he plucks a number, out of nowhere, to massively hike the C-Charge. And without any proof, he also increases the charging period to cover weekends, plus extending his additional cash grab through to 10pm every day. This modern day Dick Turpin, a debt-ridden anti-driver political opportunist, has divided the capital with his recurrent ‘pay to congest and pollute’ policies. He then blames the Government for doing all of this. Surely, he cannot sink any lower with such bigoted political deceit? 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 without screwing drivers at every opportunity”. Howard Cox, Founder of the FairFuelUK Campaign
“Enough is enough. The financial ‘Khanage’ in London inflicted by the 30% C-Charge increase extended to 7 days at a time of great economic hardship for many people, the country and our capital must be challenged. The Mayor is riding roughshod over every motorist, who has no choice but to drive.” Paul Biggs Director of ABD
Background to the Legal Challenge:
- The Dept of Transport Minister wrote to Black Antelope on June 24 saying, the decision to raise the Congestion Charge to £15 was taken by Sadiq Khan. Here is his statement: “On 15 May the Government announced a £1.6 billion emergency funding and financing package to enable Transport for London to continue operating services for essential journeys through the COVID 19 outbreak. As part of the agreement, the Mayor of London agreed a number of measures to support the safe restart of the transport system, including by helping Londoners move towards greener and healthier walking and cycling options. This included reintroducing the congestion charge, LEZ and ULEZ, and bringing forward proposals to widen the scope and level of these charges. However, the decision to temporarily raise the congestion charge to £15 and extend the hours of operation was taken by the Mayor. This will be reviewed as part of the upcoming review into TfL’s financial position. I hope this information was helpful.”
- The Mayor on July 6, 2020 said: “Given we are responding to exceptional and urgent circumstances and the changes are only temporary, it was not practicable or required to conduct a formal lengthy consultation. Nonetheless, Transport for London (TfL) and I invited responses from stakeholders and the public to understand their views. Approximately 14,000 emails and letters were received through the TfL ‘yoursay’ email address and the GLA. The issues raised in public and stakeholder responses have been considered through the impact assessment. A broad range of supportive views and concerns were raised. People expressed support for measures due to concerns about high levels of traffic, air pollution and road safety, as well as concerns about impacts of the changes on residents, shielding residents and vulnerable people reliant on volunteers, as well as businesses and the economy. The Integrated Impact Assessment took into account the views submitted by stakeholders and the public. Additional mitigation measures were identified as a result. The IIA was published alongside the decision form.” Were any of the ‘stakeholders’ representative of drivers or the haulage industry?
- Where is the evidence for choosing the figure 31% as the amount to increase the congestion charge? 150 times the current Inflation rate. No evidence has been published by TfL or from the Mayor, why this figure is the suitable increase to achieve his objectives, whatever they maybe. Are they to help pay off London’s huge debt or for to reduce congestion and emissions?
- What will this punitive rise generate in extra revenue to the Mayor’s administration?
- Where will the extra revenue be spent?
- The Mayor said temporarily increasing the charge from £11.50 and extending it until 10pm would help deliver a “cleaner and greener” economic recovery from coronavirus. Where is his evidence that such a ‘finger in the air’ increase will generate cleaner and greener economic recovery from coronavirus?
- Sadiq Khan backed London Transport price hike despite blaming the government. The London Mayor had already agreed for fares to rise by at least three per cent from January 2021, even before the coronavirus outbreak.
- Sadiq Khan has blamed the Government for forcing him to hike public transport fares in London as a condition of a £1.6 billion bailout – even though he announced a price increase before the coronavirus outbreak.
- Mr Khan says, “It is hoped the new hours and higher levy could cut car journeys by a third, reduce exhaust emissions by 11 percent, and make walking and cycling safer” – TfL said: “These temporary changes will ensure the capital’s recovery from the pandemic is not restricted by cars and congestion.” Where is his detailed evidence in making these claims to allegedly justify a 30% increase?
- The changes mean the charge will operate from 7am-10pm from Monday June 22, seven days a week. Before the change it operated only 7am-6pm and only on weekdays. Where is the evidence that extending the payment charge to 10pm every day will reduce congestion between 6pm and 10pm?
- Where is the evidence that charging drivers to enter London at the weekends will reduce congestion? What is the recorded level of congestion weekdays compared to weekends? What is the justification in widening the congestion charge to Saturdays and Sundays?
- Transport for London said, “the number of cars in the zone had returned to pre-lockdown levels amid concerns the numbers could double as people followed orders to avoid public transport.” The Government has told commuters to avoid public transport, unless necessary. They advised walking, cycling, and driving instead, yet the Mayor has penalised driving by the punitive changes to the congestion charge regime.
- How long is this temporary increase in the congestion charge to be?
- What is the Mayor’s congestion charge plan in terms of duration, charging period and cost to drivers after the current temporary implementation period ends?
- What is the economic impact on the following because of current punitive changes to the congestion Charge?
- Businesses within the congestion charge zone
- Tourism, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, museums
- Hauliers, distribution, van drivers
- Businesses entering London to work
- Private Taxis
- Medical visits
- Social and community events
- Parking income
- As cycle lanes are proven to increase traffic congestion, and therefore pollution, will the Mayor charge cyclists to use their dedicated areas of travel to help in reducing his record debt?
- TfL has suffered a 90 per cent decline in revenues during the Covid-19 lockdown – a burden very few private companies could survive without any form of government intervention. TfL’s finances doubtlessly could have been in a better position – the body had racked up £11bn of debt before the coronavirus crisis – but it is dishonest to characterise the bailout as inevitable.
- Bearing this in mind, why is it only motorists, van drivers and truckers who must fork out extra money, to help reduce London’s debt?
- Why are river traffic, air traffic, construction equipment/works, wood burners, air conditioning equipment etc excluded from any charges, considering they contribute more to pollution than passenger cars? By charging theses sources of emissions too, would help the Mayor reduce his record deficit.
- Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for mayor, said: “The mayor has been so political that every time the Government has ridden to his rescue, he’s punished them for doing it.” Pointing out that the Government has already had to bail TfL out to the tune of £3.6 billion for Crossrail, he said: “He hasn’t acknowledged that this is all down to his poor management.” During a Mayor’s Question Time in May, Mr Bailey questioned why Mr Khan had not published his proposal for how he planned to pay for the bailout – leaving confusion over who was responsible for the Congestion Charge extension.
“He’s saying about the Congestion Charge that it’s entirely the Government’s fault, that they made him put it up, but that’s disingenuous,” he said. “Being a good politician is great, but he is a bad mayor. London does not have an economy if it does not have a public transport system, but he has utterly smashed the finances to pieces in order to make himself look good. When the Government comes to help him, he then tries to make it their fault. “He claims to have balanced the books prior to this but it’s simply not true. He cut 30 per cent of TfL’s staff. We have lost £1.3 billion in income on Crossrail. We are paying £400 million a year in interest payments, and we’ve lost 17 of 25 projects. Ken (Livingstone) and Boris (Johnson) were building things, but he has not built anything – he is behind in his housing targets. “He’s preventing the economic recovery of this country by stifling the capital.”