The Tories must come clean on the Congestion Charge
11 September, 2020
‘The Tory government to blame for the Congestion Charge’
• THE column by “Two Cities” Conservative MP Nickie Aiken, (Confidence is key to an economic revival, September 4) peddles a dishonest and misleading narrative which the Tory political war machine now regularly pumps out ahead of next year’s mayoral race: namely, that Sadiq Khan is to blame for the increase in the congestion charge.
She states that: “we must work together to ensure London’s economy bounces back” and that “the mayor should temporarily remove the congestion charge at evenings and weekends” because it has “become a tax on economic recovery, costing thousands of jobs”.
What the MP fails to mention is that changes to the congestion charge have been imposed on the mayor by her Conservative ministerial colleagues.
In its Transport for London bailout package, which came after a 90 per cent decline in TfL transport use in the wake of Covid-19, the Tory government insisted the mayor had to bring forward an “immediate reintroduction of the London congestion charge… and urgent proposals to widen the scope and levels of this charge” as a precondition to receiving the funding package.
Sadiq was left with no choice but to accept these conditions to keep TfL, and thereby Londoners’ livelihoods, afloat.
As independent commentator Dave Hill put it, “it is hard not to laugh at the desperation and dishonesty of London Tories’ attempts to blame Sadiq Khan for the increase in the central London congestion charge”.
It is, as Mr Hill put it, a frantic attempt to shore up their chances of winning which, at present, look thin to put it rather generously. But the public expect more of their elected representatives than this kind of politics, and rightly so.
Nickie Aiken should use her time trying to convince Boris Johnson to change course rather than peddling stories intended to mislead the electorate.
CLLR PANCHO LEWIS
Labour, West End ward