Hidden agenda to congestion charging

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Transport for London has a hidden agenda to raise revenue, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association.

Jay Parmar, head of legal services at the BVRLA criticised the current system of congestion charging saying the way in which drivers were being fined, without the opportunity of appeal against alleged transgressions, was a “deliberate policy of disregard for individuals’ rights and could cost businesses and tourists around £50m in unfairly applied fines over the next five years”.

John Lewis, director general of the association, said that the charge was hiked by 60 per cent in July 2005 despite past promises of low or no future rises, and he claimed that TfL was “choosing to increase costs and reduce revenue”.

“Our view is simple: rental and leasing companies must be allowed to transfer liability of all fines simply and swiftly to the relevant drivers [rather than staying with the company the driver works for], allowing them in turn to make representation to TfL if they feel they are being unfairly fined.”

Parmar provided several case studies which he said outlined how the current system of congestion charging is open to severe errors of unfair fining. He said: “We believe this is TfL’s strategy to deliberately reject transfer of liability. They have an agenda and we know that hidden agenda is to raise revenue.”

Lewis said: “It seems to us that TfL may almost deliberately be creating a policy of significant time-delays and over-bureaucratic policies that have the effect of denying natural justice to drivers . . . With the scheme proving too successful in clearing streets and with revenues falling far short of their target, it is better for TfL to fine drivers £50 or even £100 rather than have them pay a Congestion Charge of £8.”

The BVRLA says that TfL’s fines policy netted it an additional £4m last year alone. The association said: “We have no argument with the Congestion Charge as such, but we object strongly to what seems to us to be almost a deliberate policy of disregard for individuals’ rights.”

The Freight Transport Association has been commissioned by the South East Regional Assembly to produce its regional freight strategy.

The FTA, which has completed similar strategies for the North East and North West, is building on a set of policies that are to be reviewed over the coming weeks.

The strategy will then inform planning and investment decisions for the South over the next 15 to 20 years. The stakeholder group, which has already had an initial meeting, brings together interests from air, sea, road and rail sectors as well as from government agencies to make certain that the final product is integrated between modes and reflects both the regional and national agendas for freight over the coming years.

l The FTA has welcomed the launch of a £1.3m scheme which aims to encourage safer, cleaner and more efficient van driving which it hopes will help to overcome the poor image van drivers have traditionally had and promote the work that they do.

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