Unpaid Congestion Charge Fees Top £170m

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 69 months ago
Unpaid Congestion Charge Fees Top £170m

Drivers owe £174m in unpaid congestion charge fees since its introduction in 2003, so says Transport for London. 33,684 vehicles didn't cough up in 2011-12, though that's a huge improvement on 2010-11 when 52,103 held onto their cash. If you think you can get away without paying, think on this: TfL will send the bailiffs round.

Since CC money gets ploughed back into the transport network, the cash could have paid for nearly three cable cars, or two-thirds of the step-free access programme, or all of the platform extensions to allow seven car trains to run on the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines, or almost a quarter of the Victoria station upgrade, or two and a half Paddington congestion relief programmes, or more than four Finsbury Park upgrades... you get the picture. It's quite a lot of money.

A third of the unpaid fees are from foreign embassies. We've known for several years that the Americans really don't see why they should bother and now owe over £6m, with the Russians, Germans, Nigerians and Japanese not far behind with £3m or £4m apiece.

While we're talking about collecting money from drivers, traffic wardens in Camden are striking next Wednesday and Thursday in support of a £10 per hour pay claim. But before you go off to park wherever you please, bear in mind that Ealing Council is believed to have sent out office staff and temps to patrol the streets when faced with a similar situation. Camden's contractors are trying to resolve the dispute before saying what they'll do if talks fail.

Photo by Simon Wicks from the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 06 July 2012


The USA and the EU collection of member states, the two biggest non-payers, do not just "not bother" to pay. They both made clear that it was a tax after obtaining legal advice: when the former Mayor raised the C-Charge by 60% for the provision of no extra services he confirmed this. The UK government and TfL have refused both to obtain legal advice and to publish the advice they have had on this matter. They have simply made bland weasel statements. Whether we like it or not, diplomats do not pay taxes in the countries where they are stationed. The Uk takes advantage of this in exactly the same way. Like the USA, the UK diplomats pay parking charges and tickets, road tolls etc because these are not taxes. But the C-Charge is a tax so diplomats will not pay it, unless they have political reasons. Indeed the EU took this a stage further when it advised all member states that they do not have to pay, and made clear that the correct wording of 'congestion charges' should be 'congestion taxes'...and Sweden promptly obeyed and changed the name from 'charge' to 'tax'.