Ken Livingstone today announced his agreement to levy a higher congestion charge on London’s gas-guzzlers. The Alliance Against Urban 4×4’s, which was co-founded by the Green party’s Sian Berry, has been arduously campaigning for this result which came after a three month public consultation. And so, from October this year, drivers of 4×4’s and other high-powered vehicles will have to pay a mighty £25 to enter the congestion zone and the eco-friendly cars will get to enter free-of-charge.
It’s hoped that this emissions-based charging system will convince drivers to convert to greener, cleaner cars or better still, use public transport and once and for all get the huge 4×4’s out of our city centres. I, like many others, can’t think of any reason why anyone would need to use off-roaders in our cities. For that matter, maybe they should be banned from the school run in all towns and cities. There’s enough evidence to show how polluting they are, not to mention how much of a risk they are to other road-users and pedestrians, those risks of course increasing on each and every manic school run.
On the downside of Ken’s decision to increase 4×4 charges, to paraphrase Lib Dem’s Brian Paddick, there’s a risk that the rich 4×4 drivers will just absorb the increases and the average hard-working family with the people-carrier won’t be able to afford to change their vehicle nor pay the higher charges.
What’s needed then, as we all know, are decent, cheap and reliable public transport systems and convenient Park-and-Ride schemes. And if the wealthy 4×4’ers are still going to come into the city thus not reduce emissions or congestion, then maybe a total ban is the only thing that will do it.