Promoting waste management to Europe

- we've have had our doubts since the Mayor dodged the inconvenience of a public inquiry in 2000 and was censured by the GLA for avoiding elected members' questions.

The author, who does not even live in the enlarged 'Kengestion Charging Zone', has received no fewer than FOUR identical mailings from Transport for London (TFL) glorifying the zone's extension as boosting our 'quality of life'.

Claims on the so called benefits, economic impact, congestion and pollution need to be carefully scrutinised - not least as the Mayor believes that cutting carbon emissions has got to be forced on long-suffering drivers, while he spends to the order of £300,000 on firework spectaculars. It's our money going up in smoke!

Road Pricing – Some Inconvenient Truths               March 2007


Peter Roberts’ monumental petition against road pricing has clearly frightened the Government – and prompted a knee-jerk reaction that those who signed the petition were doing so out of ignorance.


The Government should heed the Blairite think-tank, IPPR, which has confirmed that, whereas the cost of travel is not a major factor in using the car, convenience is.  [1]

* * * * * * * *


The Government’s own Eddington Report, however, suggested that lessons from local road pricing pilots should be used in the design of any future national scheme.


The first experiment, Mayor Livingstone’s 'Kengestion Charge', is often held up as a great ‘success’ for others to copy.


Its introduction in 2003 was carefully stage-managed. Transport for London (TFL) exaggerated the risk of road chaos to deter motorists and give the impression of success. A spokesman said "We knew that first impressions would be lasting and we decided to publicise the risk of chaos even though we were pretty confident there would be no serious problems. The plan worked superbly, with a huge number of drivers avoiding Central London because they thought it would be a nightmare". [2]


* * * * * * * *


The charge duly failed to raise the vast sum of money hyped by Mayor Livingstone, and depended heavily on fining non-payers for its profit (£70m from £100m net revenue in 2005). [3]


TFL’s sponsor, Derek Turner, amazingly let it slip that the charge had been made deliberately difficult to pay. [4]


The fines were certainly controversial. In an early check, Transport for London won under 7% of appeals heard by independent arbiters. Errors typically concerned number-plate details or payment date. [5]


Many drivers would just have paid up. However, in a bizarre case, Dr. Jon Thompson was fined for allegedly entering the charge zone without paying.. In winning his appeal, he used photographs to prove that he was over 80 yards outside the zone when snapped by a monitoring camera. The AA’s Rebecca Rees was quoted as asking:  "TFL has not raised the revenue it hoped to and is taking desperate measures?”. [6]


The government is now blackmailing other local authorities that, unless they take part in road pricing trials, they will be denied funding for transport improvements. Those authorities should be concerned that when London was deemed to have a new source of income, the Government cut its transport grant by the predicted congestion charge revenue over two years – over £200 million. [7]


* * * * * * * *


The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors supported the London ‘Kengestion Charge’ from the start. However, a year later, its report claimed that the retail sector was a big loser - trade was damaged by customers no longer wanting to travel in and pay the charge. The complexities of the charge and how to pay it were given as factors. [4]

A report by Centre for Economic and Business Research in July 2005 commented on TFL’s claim to have looked for an economic impact from the charge, but hadn't found one: “We're not convinced they have looked hard enough”.

Economist Douglas McWilliams described as "highly flawed" TFL studies that concluded that the effect on business of extending the Kengestion Charge westward would be neutral. He criticised it as misrepresenting the nature of the extension zone, and being neither rigorous nor open to proper scrutiny.

Whilst admitting the difficulty in making exact judgements, McWilliams felt that extending the charge zone would hit lower paid workers, threaten 6,000 jobs and potentially impact London’s economy by over £230m a year.


TFL’s projections of generating millions of pounds for public transport were described as unrealistic by a residents’ group, [8] who reasoned that the extension would run at a loss of millions. Even so, Mayor Livingstone ignored heavy opposition and went ahead.


Londoners have lost in other ways. TFL’s Social Impacts Survey [9] does not reflect a resounding success. Residents in poorer parts of London complained of less visits by family and friends, and around a third were having difficulty in paying the charge.


* * * * * * * *


TFL’s recent claims have included [10]  up to 70 fewer personal road injuries per year as a direct result of Congestion Charging”. Firmly a “Hope they don’t think twice about that one”….


Read the small print of TFL’s Fourth Annual Monitoring Report, 2006 (FAMR) and this was based on an ‘estimate’ of 200 fewer accidents a year in London. Although the charge zone then only covered 1.4% of the capital and recorded about 7% of accidents, TFL decided that this would produce around 33% of the ‘reduction’, which it also estimated ‘in the range 40-70’. [11]


* * * * * * * *


TFL also recently claimed that congestion within the zone is ‘down 30%’ [10]  But, as in Alice in Wonderland, words mean what you want them to, and FAMR showed congestion increasing when measured in terms of “excess delay”. This gave three different methods of calculation, with significant variations in results. [12]


Hardly an exact science. Their selected example within the zone gave a journey time reduction of just 8%, or 20 seconds. [13]


Weeks after the charge’s introduction, Trafficmaster found that journeys on 7 out of 12 key routes into Central London were taking longer. TFL's head of traffic management admitted that traffic levels were creeping back up and were 5% higher on boundary roads than before the scheme began. [2]


A RAC Foundation survey on nine key routes later found: " …average speeds – recorded in real driving conditions - are about a third of what Transport for London claims to have achieved."  [14]


A ‘transport improvement’ involving the redevelopment of Trafalgar Square reduced traffic capacity there by up to 60 per cent. Despite claims that it would cope with traffic, delays of up to 30 minutes were measured, with knock-on effects felt across the capital. The average traffic speed was found to be comparable to a time of major roadworks. [15]

The small print of FAMR revealed that main inner London roads were experiencing lower speeds, and that congestion had increased in recent years in spite of decreased traffic volumes! [16]. Little wonder that the report recommended that “uncongested travel rate should not be seen as a target” and that comparison against 2002 was “increasingly inappropriate”. [17].


* * * * * * * *


TFL claimed in 2005 [13] that a “12% reduction in key traffic pollutants” had continued, but again fell back on an estimate, while recording large increases in both NO2 and particulates (PM10). It also had to conclude that “it is not possible to identify a clear congestion charging effect in monitored air quality data”.

The following year, TFL conceded that
London’s air quality improvement (reduced vehicle emissions) had been made possible by improvements in vehicle technology. [18]


* * * * * * * *


Little wonder that London’s motorists - with four years’ experience of the ‘benefits’ of road pricing - are among its strongest opponents.[19] Some 63% regard the charge as unfair, a figure that might have been even higher had it not been for employer subsidies and exemptions.





1              Charging Forward: A review of public attitudes towards road pricing in the UK, IPPR, 2006,



2              Times, 12.3.03


3              TFL, Fourth Annual Monitoring Report, (FAMR), section 9,


4                     Evening Standard, 16.2.04


5                     only 71 cases out of 1,125, Evening Standard, 6.5.03


6              Evening Standard, 1.3.04.


7              GLA member Angie Bray , Evening Standard, 1.5.03


8              Gordon Taylor, West London Residents’ Association,

- Blunder on the Western Front, Dec 2005, also

- The Western Extension of the London Congestion Charging Zone,  Nov 2005


9              TFL, Central London Congestion Charge, Social Impacts Survey 2002, 2003


10           TFL, 3.7.06, quoted by eGov monitor,


11           FAMR, p106


12           FAMR, p56


13           Central London Congestion Charging Scheme – Impacts Monitoring – Summary Review – January 2005.  Quoted by NAAT,


14           Kevin Delaney, RAC,  Evening Standard, 11.6.03


15           Evening Standard, 2.6.03


16           FAMR, p51


17           FAMR, p41/p40


18           FAMR, p107


19           RAC Report on Motoring, 2006