Londoners concerned about privacy if new charges are brought in to drive on roads

By Staff

The London Assembly has said that it has heard ‘significant concerns’ about the prospect of any new road charging scheme being introduced in the capital. These include fears around motorists’ privacy and the provision of alternative transport to driving.

The body defines road user charging, also known as congestion charging, road pricing or smart road charging, as ‘any process whereby motorists are required to pay for driving on public roads’. Existing ULEZ, LEZ and the Congestion Charge are legally called ‘road user charging’ schemes under the GLA Act 1999.

A committee call for evidence, the London Assembly says, received over 3,300 responses from both individuals and organisations. It identified ‘significant concerns about the prospect of any new scheme and that privacy concerns and the provision of alternative transport to driving should be key considerations’.

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Assembly Members say a scheme would need to be ‘as simple as possible’ and, at a very early stage, ensure there is a ‘working group’ that includes representatives from ‘all relevant stakeholders that will demographically and geographically represent Londoners’.

All potential revenue generated must be assigned to a programme of early improvements to public transport in London, their report adds. In addition, it is recommended that there should be an ‘open, early, wide and well-publicised public engagement exercise’, allowing people to give their views on next steps and shape any scheme design ‘from the very start’.

Siân Berry AM , Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee throughout the investigation, said: “This report does not seek to find cross-party consensus on whether or not a smarter road user charging scheme should be introduced in London, or what any scheme might look like. Instead, our Committee aimed to explore and present the issues that would need to be considered as part of the development of any future scheme alongside recommendations to any future Mayor or government, that was to consider introducing a new scheme.

“The huge reaction we received to our Call for Evidence – over 3,300 responses received – highlights the interest Londoners have in this topic, and the Committee is grateful for all of the feedback given. The mayor has broad powers to introduce a range of new charging schemes, as does the national government.

“While the current Mayor has made clear that there are no plans in the immediate term for new road user charging schemes in London, it is vital that the Assembly outlines how the key findings of our investigation will help shape any future work on this issue within the City Hall. There is much that any future mayor or government can learn from our recommendations if they were to consider one day exploring this idea.”

Sadiq Khan has ruled out pay per mile scheme

The Mayor of London has repeatedly ruled out introducing a ‘pay per mile’ scheme. Mr Khan told MyLondon last week that simplifying the current system comprised of many fees, with two others being added in the Blackwall and Silvertown tunnels next year, is an ‘attractive prize’.

Responding to the Assembly’s report, a spokesperson for the Mayor of London told MyLondon: “The Mayor has ruled out a pay-per-mile scheme in London.”

It is understood that TfL is undertaking wider work to bring in-house the currently outsourced system for existing schemes – such as the ULEZ, LEZ and Congestion Charge – for which the contract expires in 2026. But pay per mile charging is not being developed as part of this work.

The Green Party’s candidate for the capital’s mayoralty, Zoë Garbett, has said she would consult on introducing a ‘smarter, fairer road charging system’ for drivers. The proposed scheme would charge vehicles based on ‘distances driven, vehicle emissions, time of day and location’.

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