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.