Greater London boundary charge ‘discriminatory’, PM claims

The introduction of a Greater London boundary charge would be “discriminatory” against Bexley, claimed Boris Johnson on a visit to Sidcup.

The Prime Minister spent yesterday afternoon in the Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency with Conservative candidate Louie French, in the run up to next month’s by-election.

Speaking exclusively to News Shopper, Mr Johnson criticised Sadiq Khan’s proposals for a new boundary charge, which would see drivers with vehicles registered outside London charged £3.50 every time they enter outer boroughs such as Bexley and Bromley, rising to £5.50 for more polluting vehicles.

Boris Johnson said: “People in outer London need to commute. I’m a massive believer in cycling.

News Shopper: A boundary charge could raise £500 million a year (PA)A boundary charge could raise £500 million a year (PA)

“I’m a massive believer in investing in the tube. But to be frank, Bexley is not very well covered by tube networks and not everybody can cycle. But people do rely on their cars.

“And, you know, we’re working that we’re moving towards an age of less polluting cars. That’s fantastic.

“But people still going to need four wheels to move around.

“And I think that the outer London tax that is being brought in by Sadiq Khan is discriminatory against outer London.”

Louie French, a councillor for eight years and the former deputy leader of Bexley council, will oppose the plans if elected.

Critics say the charge would damage Bexley and Bromley, which are deeply connected to neighbouring areas such as Dartford, Sevenoaks, Surrey.

People drive into the two boroughs on a daily basis to use public services, attend work, shop and visit friends and family.

Sadiq Khan is considering the charge as a way of raising the £500 million additional annual venue for TfL, after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps shot down his request for control over vehicle excise duty raised in London.

According to a recent document, TfL requires an additional £1.7 billion of emergency Government funding to keep London’s transport network running until 2023.

The network’s finances were decimated by the pandemic, which made billion-pound Government bailouts in November 2020 and June 2021 vital to keep services running.

Government ministers expressed opposition to the possibility of a boundary charge in March, with Transport Minister Rachel Maclean claiming it would be a border tax “levied on people outside London by a Mayor they were not able to vote for, or indeed vote out.”

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson launched a petition opposing the proposals earlier this year, gaining more than 20,000 signatures.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “TfL only has financial problems because the pandemic caused a huge drop in fare income.

“One of the mayor’s biggest objections to the last emergency funding settlement from government was the demand that TfL must raise £0.5-1bn of revenue per year from new sources of income by 2023.

“There are very few options for doing this.   

“The Mayor has stood-up for Londoners, rejecting previous government schemes such as extending the congestion charge to the north and south circular.  

 “TfL are examining the feasibility of a greater London boundary charge for non-residents. 

“People who live in London and have their cars registered to a London address, including anyone living in the London borough of Bexley would not pay this charge. This study has not been finished yet and no decisions have been taken.

“The mayor’s preferred solution is for the government to allow London to keep the £500m of vehicle excise duty Londoners pay each year, but is spent outside the capital.

“If the government are intent on opposing this, then they should set out how they expect TfL to raise this level of revenue by 2023.”   

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Bristol – Metro