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You want carbon taxes? We've got carbon taxes.

by ThatBritGuy Wed Nov 15th, 2006 at 07:56:09 AM EST

It looks like London Mayor Ken Livingstone is about to make himself very unpopular with the rich and feckless. Plans were announced today to raise the London congestion charge to £25 for 4X4s and other high-end cars with high-end emissions. Budget cars with low emissions will have the charge waived. The charge area itself is being extended early next year to include more of West London, including some poorer areas, and also a section of the Westway, which is the main access road to central and northern London from the West.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

The exemptions aren't quite as useful as they sound, because there are barely any cars on sale in the UK that fall into the lowest A & B emissions bands. But anyone who owns one - or more than one - will now be able to drive across London for nothing. The most common C, D, E and F bands will continue to pay the current £8 charge.

More impressively, for those of us who don't own Chelsea Tractors and find them annoying, the 90% resident exemption will end for band G high emission vehicles. This means anyone in the congestion charge area who owns a 4X4 will be paying £25 a day to keep it outside their front door - around £6,500 a year. (There's no charge at weekends.)

As Ken says:

"Those who buy them can afford to choose from pretty much the whole of the mainstream car market but have chosen to buy one of the most polluting vehicles.

"By making these changes to the congestion charging scheme we are encouraging people to take into account the impact of their choice of new car on the environment and the planet."

Expect squeals of pain from owners of top line Porsches, Jaguars, BMWs and Range Rovers.

Everyone else will now be thinking about putting a downpayment on that Smart car or hybrid they've always wanted.

The bad news? The charges won't start until 2009. The next Mayoral election is in 2008. Ken has now made himself a lot of enemies, and given them an incentive to promote a more conservative and corporate-friendly candidate.

With the campaign for the elections just starting, it's going to be interesting to see just how close this plan gets to being implemented.

More impressively, for those of us who don't own Chelsea Tractors and find them annoying, the 90% resident exemption will end for band G high emission vehicles.

Just last week there was a report in the press that the moniker "Chelsea Tractor" is indeed appropriate, as the largest number of 4x4 vehicles in the country is to be found in Chelsea.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 08:50:37 AM EST
My argument has always been that what you do in your own home is your own business, as long as it causes no harm to any innocent and non-consenting party.

Smoking, rowdiness, litter, and all the rest of the list of anti-social behaviours are already seen as in conflict with this. Driving a 4x4 is about as anti-social as you can get IMO.

So good luck to tube-travelling Mr Livngstone. Why not make it 50 quid while you're about it?

The 3 year time lag is presumably to allow people to get to the end of their financing or leasing deals?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 10:02:33 AM EST
Personally I wonder how people can even drive SUVs in the narrow streets of Europe.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 01:05:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 03:13:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, especially in the south of England where streets double as parking. People here must love to look at cars.

"I'm sorry if it wasn't wide enough for you. A lot of the English cars have steering wheels."
-Basil Fawlty, "Waldorf Salad"

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Wed Nov 15th, 2006 at 09:35:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I laughed myself silly over that episode... the second-best after Don't mention the war!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Nov 15th, 2006 at 09:52:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
.. I call it common-sense capitalism... when something is highly demanded (roads ina city) make it pay dearly and finance other alternatives. Use more space of the road and you pay more dearly.

There have been noises about the same thing happening in Spain with water... and of course.. it will work wonderfully if it is ever implemented.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 12:42:26 PM EST
One of the basic paradoxes of human life is that however big your house, your salary, your roads - life expands to fill the space.

The paradox is that it doesn't seem to apply to minds.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 03:17:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hooray for Ken!  Not much hope that common sense will be applied throughout the country by means of increased road tax...
by Sassafras on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 03:32:17 PM EST
Ken has a long history of populist measures. He's possibly dropped the ball a little with Transport for London's PFI schemes - although it's not clear how much choice he had, and he's certainly been scathing about some of the outcomes.

But Ken is possibly the reason the Greater London Council was abolished by Thatcher in the 80s. He infuriated her so much by - for example - making tube fares, half the usual price that he had to go.

His election allegedly incensed Tony, because Ken had very publicly left the Labour fold, and voting him in as Mayor was a poke in the eye for Downing Street.

But it's not clear if he's on borrowed time now, or if he can tough this one out. I'm totally supportive.

If nothing else this will help curb my own rather worrying growing resentment of 4x4s - which unfortnately are not rare where I live.

UK Road Tx is already banded by emissions. But it's not banded enough. A band tax is free, which is good. But G band tax is £215 - and there's certainly room for at least a 100% increase there.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 05:11:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe I'm generally quite a considerate driver (at least by the standards of southern England), but I've been aware for some time that a 4x4 needing to get out into traffic will not receive the same treatment as a Mini.  Not from me, anyway.

It isn't just the pollution.  It's the increased risk at which they put pedestrians and cyclists.  A sensible upper limit on car size and bonnet height would do a lot to make roads more usable by sustainable forms of transport.

Frankly, I think there's room for another zero on the end of that 100%.

by Sassafras on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 06:34:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And its not just the physical attributes of 4x4 drivers, but also the attitude that a maker cultivates in order to spur sales.

While cycle commuting in Newcastle (AU), I noted that at least 4/5 of cars parked reasonably close to the curb, while on the other hand at times 4/5 of 4x4's were as close or closer to the lane of traffic than to the curb.

And here in Ohio, while walking around town I find that they are the drivers most likely to turn at a traffic light without looking to see whether there is a pedestrian crossing (in Ohio, unless posted, pedestrians have priority crossing with the red light).

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Nov 15th, 2006 at 10:11:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I rather hope Ken manages to stick to his proposal and make it an emotional issue in the campaign, mobilising voters on his side. SUV owners are still a predominantly Tory and party NuLab minority, and Red Ken won against both a Tory and NuLab candidate.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Nov 15th, 2006 at 09:23:30 AM EST
Question for you Mr BritGuy. Can EU citizens who are not UK residents or citizens donate in local elections in England?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Nov 15th, 2006 at 10:00:34 AM EST
I don't think so.

Time to take up again Colman's What power do we have? (August 3rd, 2005)

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 15th, 2006 at 10:04:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Donations are almost irrelevant in local elections, because candidates are often chosen by the central party. Where they're chosen by the local party, campaigning and voting are internal to party members. In most places that means a minority of local party member. So there's almost no room at the initial selection stage to make a difference. And there's certainly nothing like a US primary which mostly runs on ad spend. In the UK selection will be done by committee, not by the voters.

There's some room for contributions in an election, and independents do occasionally win. But they need to be nationally famous, or have an important local issue supporting them.

I don't know what the funding rules are for the Mayor's office, or how that's managed. Ken won partly on an anti-NuLab ant protest vote last time. He might be able to do that again, but since everyone is so cynical about politics in general in the UK, includings some of Ken's contributions, enthusiasm for him may be underwhelming.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 15th, 2006 at 11:40:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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