Missions face CC charge hike

Diplomats beware: TFL is watching…

London’s diplomats may have to brace themselves for a sharp increase in congestion charge fares from December 2010, as revealed in the Mayor’s transport strategy.

Boris Johnson plans to abolish the western extension of the charging zone, which means missions in the Kensington area will no longer be eligible for the 90 per cent discount and will have to pay the full charge when visiting Whitehall or the City.

By abolishing the western extension, the Mayor is estimated to lose £50m in revenue, to be compensated for by raising the congestion charge to £10.

The Mayor also plans to introduce an automated payment account system, provisionally called CC auto pay. Customers who use this system of payment will be charged a discounted rate of £9.

Transport for London has also vowed to continue to pursue diplomatic missions that do not pay the congestion charge, contrary to recent reports in the media that it is abandoning attempts to force diplomats to pay.

A TfL spokesperson said: “The claims that TfL is no longer pursuing embassies in relation to unpaid Congestion Charging penalties are incorrect.”

She continued: “The only change in policy is that TfL has stopped sending additional statements on the amount owed by each non-paying mission, as these replicated statements sent by the Foreign Office and was the cause of confusion.”

Figures, obtained in a Freedom of Information request, reveal that London’s embassies clock up £1 million every month in unpaid fines.