FTA: Changes to congestion charge will unfairly affect logistics work
By: William Hobson
09 November 2010
Logistics work in central London will be unfairly penalised by the latest changes to the Congestion Charge, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has claimed.
The FTA says that the Mayor of London's plans to remove the Western Extension Zone of the congestion charge include an above-inflation increase of the daily charge, to come into effect from the 4th of January 2011. According to the FTA this increase pays no attention to the suggestions made in the 10-week public consultation conducted by Transport for London (TfL) on possible caps for commercial fleet operators and essential driving work.
Whilst the FTA had urged TfL to cap the current rate for those in commercial driving jobs at £7 and to consider different levels for essential business journeys and discretionary private car journeys, the new changes make no such discretions. Instead the charges will increase to: £10 if paid in advance or on the day of travel; £12 if paid by midnight on the day after travel; £9 if registered for the new arrears CC auto pay scheme or the upfront payment fleet scheme.
"These price hikes are unjustified," says Natalie Chapman, the FTA's head of policy for London. She claims that the increased charges equate to a 42% increase in costs to fleet operators since the introduction of the congestion charge some seven years ago.
"Some businesses will be able to qualify for a discount under the fleet scheme, but given the additional constraints that paying up front has on cashflow, a freeze on the current fee would have been more appropriate."
A TfL spokesman defended the charges by saying the daily charge had remained static for five years and it was "essential that it remains an effective deterrent to all but essential journeys into the heart of the capital."
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