• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Congestion charge: Sadiq Khan hit by backlash after announcing drivers won’t have to pay at night

·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Sadiq Khan
    Sadiq Khan
    British politician, Mayor of London (born 1970)

Sadiq Khan has been hit by a backlash after announcing that drivers would no longer have to pay the congestion charge at night.

The Mayorsaid on Thursday that charging hours would revert back to 6pm, from 10pm at present, from February 21 next year in a bid to help the West End night-time economy.

But this will deprive Transport for London of £60m to £70m a year in income from the £15 a day levy – at a time Mr Khan is proposing to increase council tax bills by £20 a year for three years to ease TfL’s financial crisis.

It came as City Hall’s own research showed the boroughs with the most polluted roads are in the same central London area covered or next to the C-charge zone – the City, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.

Adam Harrison, the Labour cabinet member for sustainability at Camden council, tweeted: “It’s deeply disappointing that TfL are changing the congestion charge zone hours such to no longer apply in the evenings.

“Parts of central London are already congested and polluted enough. This is literally how you facilitate a car-based recovery.”

The London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory showed there had been a 90 per cent reduction in number of Londoners living in areas exceeding legal limits for nitrogen dioxide between 2016 and 2019.

However only 27 per cent of major roads in central London met the legal limit for NO2 – including less than 10 per cent in the City, about 15 per cent in Westminster and less than 25 per cent in Kensington and Chelsea.

Oliver Lord, of the Clean Cities Campaign, said: “This is huge progress in our fight for clean air. But with 2.6 million polluting cars in London, the Mayor must double down so that active, shared and electric mobility is a first choice for all.”

It can also be revealed that Mr Khan faced opposition to the changes from a number of boroughs, including two run by directly-elected Labour mayors.

Tower Hamlets council, headed by Mayor John Biggs, said reducing the operating hours from 10pm would make it more difficult to get people out of cars and using public transport, walking or cycling.

Hackney council, headed by Mayor Phil Glanville, said the charging hours should continue until 7pm to prevent inbound traffic overlapping with vehicles heading out of London.

Church leaders including the Diocese of London and Chapter of Southwark Cathedral said the Sunday hours, which start at midday, should be delayed until 1pm to prevent causing inconvenience to worshippers.

The opposition was revealed in responses to the C-charge consultation published by TfL.

Mr Khan also faced complaints after announcing separate plans to increase the funding of TfL by restricting the entitlement to the 60+ Oyster card that offers free travel to older Londoners.

Abigail Wood, chief executive of Age UK London, said it was “deeply concerned” about plans to increase the age criteria – which will increase by six months a year over 12 years.

She said: “This is a regressive and counter-productive step that will unfairly affect future generations of older Londoners. Under the plans Londoners in their 50s will not be entitled to the concession on their 60th birthday, instead they will have to wait longer. After 12 years the 60+ Oyster Card will be cut entirely.

“The 60+ Oyster Card is a lifeline not a luxury for thousands of Londoners in their 60s. People on low incomes, carers, key workers are among those that will be most hardest hit. We urge the Secretary of State for Transport to provide Transport for London with sufficient long-term funding and we call on the Mayor to reconsider these plans and maintain his pledge that cuts to concessions will not take place under his Mayoralty.”

City Hall said the latest emissions data showed how the ultra low emissions zone, which launched in central London in April 2019, had helped to reduce toxic emissions.

It said in 2019, 84 per cent of major roads in London met the legal limit for NO2, compared to 46 per cent in 2016, but admitted there was “still much more work to do” to bring all roads within legal limits.

Mr Khan said: “I pledged to be the greenest Mayor London has ever had and the report demonstrates the transformative and rapid impact of my air quality policies.

“This is also an issue of social justice – we know pollution hits the poorest Londoners, who are least likely to own a car, the hardest. I will not stand by while London’s air quality leads to our capital’s children growing up with stunted lungs.

“The recently expanded Ulez is another vital step I have taken towards combatting the illegal air in our city and reducing the toxic emissions that are harming our planet.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting