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Chris Grayling touched upon the issue of congestion charging when I interviewed him a while ago. London has to be seen as fairly unique as its one of the few if not only city in the UK that you can conceivably travel about fairly effectively on public transport.

I certainly hope that this is not true. Supporting the congestion charge will gain the Party no new supporters, particularly not in London! In the run up to the local elections this could actually loose us support in London. As someone who lives in London and who is standing as a candidate in next Thursday's elections I know how very unpopular the congestion charge is with almost all people.

What David Cameron should be proposing is tax cuts for people who go green not tax rises for those who choose not to go green!

Green taxes are all very well if they are efficient. Fuel duty is pretty efficient but it seems to be out of fashion.

On 27th January the Evening Standard suggested that the congestion charge could move to pay as you go. This is great in theory but read on. They reckon to be able to collect £3 billion in charges.

The real problem is the quote from Michele Dix, director of congestion charging at TfL: “It would generate £3 billion gross and net revenue of between £1 billion and £2 billion.” This silly woman is no doubt one of the 74 TfL managers earning over £100,000 (see Evening Standard on 10th October last year). Can’t she refine her cost estimates more accurately than to the nearest £1 billion? Why does she think it acceptable to tax people to this extent, the same as the whole whole GLA budget, and then lose anywhere from a third to two thirds of the money in collection costs.

Green taxes are great but not if the cash all gets wasted and other taxes are not reduced.

Face facts. If you go into the next mayoral election promising to end the congestion charge then you will be gifting us/Ken with a sure fire vote winner. Vote Conservative for more congestion and fewer buses so a wealthy few can drive their cars into town. Get outta here.

I would support this change. I was a vocal opponent of the CC when KL brought it in. But now I think it is necessary to sto[ gridlock.

The problem I have with it, Lab voter, and maybe you'd agree, is that it is supposed to help public transport. Instead, Ken both brought in the charge and then jacked up the price on the Tube to an unacceptable degree. Congestion Charging makes sense if you spend the money gained on more, better and cheaper public transport.

That's the...and theory we need here. Congestion charging ....and better, faster, less costly public transport.

We should have the courage to say that the party was wrong about the congestion charge and admit that it as been sucessful in reducing congestion in London.
The way to defeat Livingstone is to point out his failure to improve public transport as much as he said he would and the way he as been responsible for a lot of the large hike in council tax in London in recent years not just oppose just for the sake of it!

London Tories' Clause 4 moment....

Get real, the C-charge is here to stay. Most poeple living/working and visiting London travel by public transport. Suggesting that the C-charge is to abolished would suggest the tories are only interested in the Chelsea-tractor driving voters.

Road pricing or congestion charging are ways of dealing with pollution/congestion or taxation and are conservative in principle but the issue I have is with the administrative overheads. If we collect £3bn isn't it reasonable to expect that 80% plus of that should be available to improve roads, public transport etc - after all we get 95% of Lottery cash after admin charges despite the infrastucture required to get terminals, manage tickets & cash.

Instead we have a position where around 70% of charge goes to the admin company - so congestion charging seems to be a tax on drivers to provide Capita & others with a revenue stream. I would suggest that we cannot support the CC in its present form nor its further deployment while the majority of the revenue is diverted to the administration of the charge & enforcement.

I'd suggest a true conservative approach should be first to outline the objectives then to look at the most efficient & effective way of achieving those.

Why have a congestion charge/road pricing? is it to
- Manage traffic flows?
- recover the wear & tear costs on the infrastructure or provide income to improve this?
- raise revenue for local authorities?
- meet green objectives?
- improve the local environment/liveability by making it a nicer place to live?
- move people onto to public transport?

If any or all of above how is this to be done? What is most cost effective process or technology to achieve this? What enforcement, what exceptions, whose responsibility?

I think the correct approach to the Congestion Charge is to remain silent on the point unless we can come up with something equally eye-catching to avoid the charge that we care only for those who wish to drive their expensive cars into town (with which, there is nothing wrong, I hasten to add!)

There is plenty else going on here in Keningrad to turn our guns on. The scandalous price of the Tube as compared to quality of service, for example.

Don't the good old London taxpayer have to bail out this white elephant (which I recall was supposed to pay for itself?). There must be better 'green' initiatives.

Surely, this is a non-story.

The Evening standard aapears to be only one talking about a change in policy - Chris Grayling said it is a local issue, the local transport spokeswoman is against the congestion charge. End of.

The Congestion Charge seems to work - which matters as much as if it does. The extension into Kensington and Chelsea is unpopular there, but that seems to be about it in terms of feeling against it.

What would perhaps be a better solution is a market/green based congestion charging system rather than a blanket fee?

This is just another example of "vote blue - go broke". The Tory party I used to support and trust implictly seems to be being erroded by an all-pervasive "Green consensus" at the expense of business and the economy. I think that rubbish like this was best left to the minor parties and the lib dems. I thought the Tories agreed.

While i disagree with it in principle, and given the prevalance of bus lanes, think it is rather pointless, londoners seem to like it for some reason, and i guess its their votes we want. In Central London it doesnt seem too bad, mainly because the only cars seem to be taxis and porsches. However, in smaller provincial cities that have expressed an interest in such schemes this is simply not the case, with a great proportion of working people simply not being able to use mass transit. I'd be interested to see if Cameron supports rolling out of such schemes nationwide.

I have to say I have never come across a politician who has annoyed me as much as Ken. Five reasons on the congestion point alone...
1) Extension to the Congestion Charge zone. My problem with this was the consultation process. This covered the residences and businesses of Kensington and Chelsea. In the consultation process an overwhelming majority opposed the extension. But Ken ignored it and went ahead anyway - despite his own reports saying that it would drive up congestion overall in London. It's no wonder people are disillusioned with politicians when a consultation is 100% ignored.
2) Bendy buses/routemaster. If you care about congestion why replace a bus which takes up x amount of road area with a bus which takes roughly the same passengers and takes up 2x the amount of area? And use ones which essentially have a voluntary system of payment? And they've had to change some road layouts because their too big for the lanes and corners. Ken once said 'only a ghastly dehumanised moron would get rid of the routemaster'. I agree.
3) Trafalgar Square rescoping. London has effectively been divided into two by this. Imagine travelling from West to East or vice versa. Clearly Embankment takes you all around Parliament Square. You can't go up Oxford Street - which is a a passengerless bus car park these days. So you have to go via Trafalgar Square. This, because of the traffic light resequencing and the permanently deserted north side of Trafalgar square (apart from a few non voting Japanese tourists), is a traffic nightmare
4) Traffic Light resequencing. Everyone knows that the traffic lights have been resequenced so that in some parts of London the third/fourth car at the lights has barely got to the biting point when the lights are already changing back to red. Is this supposed to help congestion?
6) Tube price hikes. It now costs £3 to go one stop. Its cheaper to get a black cab which will normally cost 2.20 for the same journey. How daft is that?

Ken's wrecking London. His policies are causing congestion not fixing it.

And that's before you've got me started on hosting suicide bomber apologists; trying to close Battersea bridge permanently; letting taxis cross Albert bridge with one passenger but giving them a ticket if they have two passengers(yes, that's true), trying to cut The Knowledge down from roughly 3 years study to 3 months etc etc etc

There certainly is alot to attack Ken Livingstone on. And there are alot of people who are very very angry at him. I don't think the Tories would be very wise, therefore, to do a turnaround and say they now support Ken's high profile policies. That would just demoralise the Ken opposition while gaining no new votes.

He's a divisive figure who needs opposing and exposing. Stephen Norris was way too soft on Ken in previous campaigns. We need to oppose strongly to rally all the opposition to Ken that exists.

Living in Lancashire, I hesitate to comment on this thread, but Ted at 09.58 makes some excellent points.

Roads are scarce resources and road pricing, which matches prices to demand by time and location, is a thoroughly Conservative idea.

The congestion charge seems much too crude an instrument to me, but once technology improves road pricing surely has much merit. It could be used to build private toll roads as well as smoothing peak demand at rush hour/school run.

One area though that we must not forget, is that road pricing must not be a stealth tax. It must be revenue neutral for the existing road network, although the income stream from new private toll roads could see a much needed expansion in the country's road building programme.

Crikey. I turn my back on this blog for a while and come back to find that (obligatory spelling mistakes aside) I'm in agreement with Jack Stone again. Nurse!!!

But Daniel, you don't live in London do you?

"But Daniel, you don't live in London do you?"

No, but that doesn't mean I can't support the congestion charge in principle.

"No, but that doesn't mean I can't support the congestion charge in principle."

Oh, I thought you were saying that you supported Jack Stone's statement that it was working in practice.

"Oh, I thought you were saying that you supported Jack Stone's statement that it was working in practice."

Oh for goodness' sake, John.

I agree with the general point he was making, and yes, from an outsider's POV, I do think it is working in practice.

I fully accept that, as an outsider, my views carry less weight than those who live and work in London.

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