Proposal to extend congestion charge to large parts of Southwark abandoned after TfL bailout

Josh Salisbury (02 November, 2020)

But the deal may mean council tax rises for Londoners later down the line

39794Congestion charge zone marking (Image: TfL)

A proposal to extend the Congestion Charge zone to cover large parts of Southwark has been abandoned.

Mayor Sadiq Khan had accused the government of attempting to force the condition on TfL in exchange for a bailout. 

It would’ve seen the zone extended to the north and south circular roads, covering large parts of Southwark such as Peckham, Camberwell and Dulwich.

A funding agreement was reached with the Government yesterday for £1.8bn, and the Congestion Charge will not be expanded as part of it. The fee is still likely to remain at £15, however, “subject to consultation.”

“This is not a perfect deal, but we fought hard to get to the best possible place,” said Mayor Khan yesterday. 

“The only reason TfL needs Government support is because almost all our fares income has dried up since March as Londoners have done the right thing.”

Free travel for teenagers has also been kept, as well as for the over-sixties, after a fierce backlash against proposals to scrap them.

But the deal, which means TfL can keep running services until March 2021, depends on Londoners contributing extra money further down the line.

The Mayor’s office says it is looking at an increase in council tax to plug the gap. 

TfL also will have to find £160m in savings or extra income, including lower capital spending – meaning less money to go around for infrastructure projects.

While Mayor Khan has hailed the deal as ultimately “seeing-off” measures which would punish Londoners, critics have accused him of being a poor negotiator. 

“Sadiq Khan presenting this deal as a victory when it means cuts to TfL and fare rises for Londoners amid a recession shows how damaging these negotiations have been,” said Luisa Porritt, the Lib Dem candidate for Mayor.

“The Conservative Government has sought to punish Londoners who are already struggling, while the Mayor of London has proven himself to be a weak negotiator.”

She added that it was wrong to claim free travel for the under-eighteens had been “saved” as the issue could come to the table again when the funding deal expires in March.

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