The western extension has been highly controversial in the capital. A local referendum rejected the idea, but then-mayor Ken Livingstone installed it anyway, despite predictions it would not financially break even for a decade.
In truth, throwing a spy-camera loop around wealthy Kensington and Chelsea was the first step in introducing a £25 per day charge for anybody rash enough to have a car emitting over 225g CO2 per kilometer.
Cynics, including me, wondered why CO2 emissions in Conservative-voting Chelsea would be much more damaging than CO2 emissions in Labour-voting and C-charge exempt Hampstead.
And don’t believe the hype about ‘air quality’. It’s nitrogen oxides and particulates from thrashed diesel engines that cause health-damaging pollution, not petrol-powered Porsche Cayennes.
But new mayor Johnson stopped the £25 per day ‘gas-guzzler’ charge and will now kill the western extension in 2010.
It’s now clear that the battle to add tolls to the motorist’s burden is a critical point.
If Manchester throws the plan out, we may have seen the high-tide of tolling in the UK. Or, at least until the economy recovers.