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Posts Tagged ‘congestion charge’

Last week saw daily outbursts of indignation at the proposals by Westminster council to extend parking charges and restrictions into the night in Central London. I’m amazed that because people are famous as actors or for running strip clubs they think their opinions on transport planning should carry more weight.

The ‘outrage’ at those facing a challenge to their cosy cars reminds me of similar opinions expressed before the congestions charge was introduced by Ken Livingstone. It was predicted to decimate the retail economy in various ways. Although the congestions charge may have changed shopping patterns, these gloomy predictions of its effects haven’t materialised, but air quality in central London has improved.

Air pollution remains a problem, costing us in terms of health treatment and quality of life (see, for example this page from Client Earth on the health impacts of air pollution or, for quantitative figures, this table from Defra on the damage costs per tonne of pollutant). So those opposing the current proposals should remember how the majority of pedestrians will benefit from restrictions on the minority who drive.

There is one argument currently put forward against the parking restrictions which I sympathise with. Many travelling late at night, particularly women, don’t feel safe on London’s streets. Those able to drive can protect themselves somewhat from this, others can’t. Again we can learn from Ken’s congestion charge: its political acceptability was helped by the reinvestment of revenues in public transport. Part of the revenues from the proposed parking restrictions should be spent increasing police (or community officer) presence on the streets. This would help the whole of London, including the polluters displaced from their cars.

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