As you might have heard, today London is electing a new Mayor and a new representatives for City Hall. There are plenty of other local elections going on around the country, so you might think that London’s votes are unlikely to be your concern.
Well, that might not be quite true. After Ken Livingstone arrived as the first modern Mayor of London in 2000, he took up on powers quietly passed into law in 1999 to fast-forward a congestion-charge scheme into being. It may have been crude, costly to set-up and unprofitable (making just 25p on each £5 fee), but it changed the face of motoring.
In the wake of the ‘successful’ introduction of the C-Charge, Edinburgh and Greater Manchester tried to introduce similar schemes, although they were defeated in local votes. Smaller cities are still trying to slip in schemes to charge private commuting drivers. Indeed, Nottingham has just brought in a tax on workplace parking.
Other towns and cities (including Gloucester) also copied London’s post C-Charge scheme of removing road space and closing junctions, hoping the subsequent queues would cause drivers to divert or, even, abandon the car altogether. Where London heads, the rest of the country tries to follow.