On 19 February, Mayor Livingstone will extend the congestion charge westwards to include Kensington and Chelsea – doubling the area of the scheme at a stroke. The Freight Transport Association opposes the application of a congestion charge to commercial operators on the grounds that they are essential vehicles required by their customers to make deliveries and that there are no other alternatives available to them but to deliver goods by road. Most vehicle operators will not be able to pass these charges on to customers and many will be thousands of pounds out of pocket.
FTA’s Head of Policy for London, Gordon Telling, said, ‘The London congestion charge continues to be an additional and expensive cost for commercial vehicle operators who have absolutely no choice but to deliver goods and services into the charge zone. London simply could not function without these deliveries and the charge is therefore not a deterrent from operation, just an increased cost for carrying out essential work.
‘Whilst we acknowledge that there have been some limited benefits from reduced congestion and improved kerbside access, this has been at a significant cost – an operator entering the zone every day will be running up a bill of many thousands of pounds each year. FTA remains convinced that commercial vehicles which have no choice but to deliver within the zone should not be paying for carrying out their vital role in delivering London’s economy. As essential vehicles they should be excluded from the scheme in the same way that buses and taxis are excluded. Why is it that carrying people is recognised as important, but that carrying the goods that people need is not?’
The revised area will stretch northwards to include North Kensington (apart from the A40) with a western boundary running down the West Cross Route, Holland Road, Earls Court Road and Edith Grove. One other through route will run along Edgware Road, Park Lane and Vauxhall Bridge Road (this is presently the western boundary).
Transport for London has made changes to the payment scheme that allow payments to be made on the next day for £10, but it is still advisable to pay through the fleet scheme or on the day for £8 and avoid the risk of paying a penalty charge. The end time of the scheme will be brought forward, from 19 February, by half an hour to 18:00, which gives some relief to drivers making evening deliveries.
Operators who are unsure if their delivery addresses will be inside the zone can use the postcode checker or view a map of the zone available on FTA’s website – http://www.fta.co.uk/information/keycampaigns/delivering_london/congestion/index.htm