Drivers from outside London could be forced pay £3.50 to enter city

11 December 2020, 15:25 | Updated: 11 December 2020, 18:28

Sadiq Khan's plans include the possibility of increased charges for high polluting vehicles.
Sadiq Khan's plans include the possibility of increased charges for high polluting vehicles. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Sadiq Khan is threatening to introduce a new £3.50 daily fee for all motorists entering Greater London, as part of his ongoing argument with the government over funding the capital’s transport network.

The city's mayor has asked Transport for London officials to investigate the feasibility of a new ‘Greater London Boundary Charge’ for non-residents.

The £3.50 daily fee would raise an estimated £500 million per year, roughly the same amount that Londoners pay each year in vehicle excise duty (VED).

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Mr Khan wants to keep the VED money to invest in London’s transport network, rather than paying it into central government funds.

He said: "If ministers aren't prepared to play fair, then we will need to consider other options to address this unfairness, such as asking people who live outside London and make journeys into Greater London by car to pay a modest charge, which would be reinvested in London's transport network."

TfL's finances have been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic and they were already given a £1.8 billion bailout by the government in November.

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A congestion charge of £15 already exists for motorists entering the centre of the city, but the new plans would mean any car registered outside of London would also pay when they enter an outer borough, such as Croydon, Enfield or Hillingdon.

The fee would also be in addition to the £12.50 ultra-low emission zone, which expands to the suburbs on 25 October 2021.

Under the new scheme, the most polluting cars could be charged more to encourage people to switch to electric or hybrid vehicles.

The measures would take at least two years to introduce, to enable the economy to recover from the pandemic.

Read more: London faces 'tipping point' in Covid fight as Mayor unveils new measures

Responding to Mr Khan's announcement, a government spokesman said: "This government has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to supporting London's transport network with more than £3 billion in emergency funding support arrangements and the recent announcement of a further £825 million loan for Crossrail.

"But we have always been clear that this support must be fair to UK taxpayers, which is why we look forward to receiving TfL's comprehensive management plan for achieving financial sustainability as soon as possible."

AA president Edmund King condemned the proposals, labelling it a “surcharge on workers”.

“An entry charge to drive into London could well backfire,” he said, “Few people just drive into London for fun as most have a job to do."

"Many of the vehicles that cross the London boundary are essential service vehicles such as plumbers and electricians, or vehicles of key workers and shift workers who can't afford to live in the capital.

Meanwhile, Environmental group Greenpeace welcomed the proposals, but said the mayor should “go bigger and bolder”.

Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK's policy director, called for measures such as a "comprehensive road charging system", expanding walking and cycling routes across the capital and upgrading the Tube network.