Extending the Congestion Charge Zone to south east London would be a “disastrous” hit to businesses in Greenwich and Lewisham already hurting from Covid-19, London Assembly member Len Duvall has claimed.
The Government is demanding Transport for London expands the charge to the North and South Circular, along with a number of other controversial fare hikes and cuts to concessions, in exchange for a £1 billion rescue package.
Already 100,000 people have signed a petition set up to oppose the proposals, which would see drivers facing £15 charges for journeys within south east London.
Now Len Duvall, the London Assembly Member for Greenwich and Lewisham, has hit out at the funding deal, saying it would be “disastrous for the people” in his boroughs.
Writing to local businesses, he said: “Business are being left to struggle with a continued loss of footfall and inadequate Government support.
“Londoners are concerned about losing their livelihoods. Introducing punitive conditions to the TfL funding deal that would hit Londoners’ pockets is about the cruellest thing they could do, and at the worst possible time.”
He continued: “Let’s not forget, the reason TfL needs support is for one reason, and one reason alone – because Londoners did the right thing in staying at home due to Covid and fares income evaporated overnight.
“Now the Government are punishing Londoners for doing exactly what was expected of them.”
The package is in response to a request from TfL for £2 billion to keep services running for the next six months.
The Government have offered the transport body £1 billion, but the deal comes with a number of conditions including increasing fares beyond the RPI plus 1% hike that the Government set out in May.
It includes the introduction of a new council tax precept, which will likely see a rise in Londoners council tax bills by a yet unknown amount.
Free travel for 11-18-year olds will be permanently scrapped, and concessions for older people cut.
Plans to expand the £15 Congestion Charge Zone also form part of the Government’s conditions, on top of the increase in cost and operating hours in the existing zone, as demanded by the Government in May.
City Hall says expanding the congestion charge to the North and South Circular roads will cover 4 million more Londoners.
This is different from the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone, a move from Sadiq Khan which only applies to the most polluting vehicles.
Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe has also slammed the Government;s proposals, stating: “The complete & utter contempt they are showing for Londoners is staggering.”
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Well it’s been a ‘bit’ of a day here in <a href=”https://twitter.com/Royal_Greenwich?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Royal_Greenwich</a> & I want to be clear with residents about what’s happening with the <a href=”https://twitter.com/TfL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TfL</a> negotiation and what it means for you here in <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Greenwich?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Greenwich</a> – the negotiations are ongoing but here’s what we know so far…</p>— Dan Thorpe (@DanLThorpe) <a href=”https://twitter.com/DanLThorpe/status/1318665427661299720?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>October 20, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Mr Duvall AM said the Government need to understand the “human impact” of their actions and urged local businesses and families to get in touch to set out what these changes mean for them.
“The Government need to understand the human impact of their actions – it’s not the Mayor they’re punishing, it’s ordinary Londoners.
“I’m urging families and businesses in the capital to get in touch with me and set out what this means for them so that we can make the strongest possible case to Government.”