3/20/2007France Joins US Coalition Against London Congestion Tax
France joins the coalition of the unwilling to pay congestion taxes in London, UK.
France has joined the United States in rejecting London Mayor Ken Livingstone's congestion tax, an £8 (US $16) fee imposed on motorists who enter key areas of the city during peak hours. Since 2005, the US Ambassador to London, Robert Holmes Tuttle, has refused to pay on the grounds that foreign governments are not allowed to tax diplomats.
In the past several weeks, about a dozen European Union member countries have joined the US in refusing to pay the tax. Although many of these countries agreed to pay the tax previously, their positions changed when Livingstone nearly doubled the size of the charging zone to include several embassies.
The idea of congestion charging and pay-per-mile taxation drew the protest of 1.8 million motorists who demanded that Prime Minister Tony Blair drop proposals to expand the concept nationwide. The London Times reports that Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman has advised lobbyists that the plan is postponed until after local elections in May.
"Clearly the government know that their road pricing policy is deeply unpopular, but they are determined to press ahead with regardless, whilst trying to minimize any electoral damage," Association of British Drivers spokesman Nigel Humphries said. "We urge people to treat the May elections as a referendum on road pricing, and refuse to vote for any candidate that refuses to condemn this ruinous scheme."