Minister calls on Mayor of London to drop congestion charge on rail strike days

17 June 2022, 09:29

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Government Minister Paul Scully has urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to lift the congestion charge and stop non-essential roadworks on rail strike days.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the Business Minister said the upcoming rail strikes "risk people's livelihoods" at a "fragile" time for personal finances.

The comments come after the AA called for road charges to be waived during the upcoming rail and Tube strikes in order to ease the burden on drivers.

Half of Britain's rail lines will be closed during strikes on June 21, 23 and 25 by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), while Transport for London (TfL) "strongly encouraged" people not to travel on London Underground on June 21 because of a 24-hour walkout by the RMT and Unite.

Read more: Rail strikes could 'end up killing people': warning from health chiefs ahead of walkout

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, AA president Edmund King said parking charges, congestion and clean air zones, as well as unnecessary road works, should all be suspended across those dates in order to prevent some areas becoming "ghost towns".

Read more: Everything you need to know about next week's rail strikes

Read more: Summer plans scuppered? Gigs, festivals, sport and GCSEs hit in biggest rail strike since '89

Mr Scully told Nick Ferrari: "If you're going to strike you risk other businesses, other people's livelihoods, but also the rail system up and down the country, including in London.

"Because we are at a point where we are trying to get people back into work and it's fragile - any excuse to stop people travelling really does affect the fare box and the financial viability of the rail service.

"We don't want to risk anybody's job so please get around the table, it's not helping anybody.

"What I would also call for though, is assuming that the rail strikes do go ahead, that in London the mayor lifts the congestion charge and stops non-essential roadworks on those strike days to make it easier for people to go about their business and get into work."

Read more: Summer of discontent: UK's biggest union 'absolutely' willing to arrange 'national strike'

The disputes have flared over pay, jobs and conditions.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Thursday warned those embarking on the three days of walkouts that they "risk striking yourselves out of a job".

He also stated that the Government plans to introduce legislation to enable the use of agency workers on the railways during industrial action "if the strike drags on".

He said: "These strikes are not only a bid to derail reforms that are critical to the network's future, and designed to inflict damage at the worst possible time, they are also an incredible act of self-harm by the union leadership."

He said the railway was "in a fight" as it was competing against remote working and other forms of public and private transport.

"We're going to endanger the jobs of thousands of rail workers," he claimed.

"The last thing the railway should be doing right now.

"It's alienating its passengers and the freight customers with long and damaging strikes."

Mr Shapps denied his comments on jobs were "a threat", describing them as a "statement of the reality".

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