London Evening Standard reaction to Congestion Charging - a prediction
Congestion Charging starts in London on Monday. It is the most ambitious congestion charging scheme in a capital city in Europe. I cannot wait
I work in central London, at the junction between Kingsway and High Holborn. I cross that junction as a pedestrian every day. It is a box junction. I know rule 150 of the UK Highway code. I understand that a box junction means that you do not cross until your way is clear if you are a vehicle. Every day I weave my way around cars, taxis and motorcycles, who ignore the fact that I have the green man and the right of way, and the fact that they crossed the box junction when they could not proceed any further. I have been shouted at, and I have been nearly run over. Repeatedly.
I have some predictions about how the London Evening Standard will respond to the introduction of the charge over the next couple of weeks.
Firstly I expect that the headline of their paper on Monday 17th will include the word 'chaos' - and that any transport problems that day will be attributed to the Congestion Charge, although the physical effect of its implementation is limited to taking photographs
I also expect the London Evening Standard to run the following stories within a month of the launch of the London Congestion charge:
- A roadside interview with a tourist with a foreign number-plate who did not know about the congestion charge and therefore hadn't paid in advance, thus proving foreigners get away with avoiding the charge and ripping us off.
- Someone to have received a notice about an unpaid congestion charge because their car was spotted, but it had been stolen at the time.
- Someone to have received a notice about an unpaid congestion charge because their car was spotted, but their DVLA record was wrong.
- Someone to have received a notice about an unpaid congestion charge because their car was spotted, but not only was their DVLA record wrong, they had died several months previously.
- A motorist to have been fined because they had to make a 'mercy dash' into central London, and were not able to pay the charge before the deadline
- A motorist to have been fined because their paperwork was lost by Capita.
...and of course none of these things ever happened to anyone dealing with motoring officialdom before, and no bureaucratic process ever went wrong until congestion charging was introduced
I also predict the Evening Standard will champion a poorly paid worker whose shift is so long that they were caught for the charge before 6:30pm one evening, and again before 7am the next day, without launching a London Evening Standard campaign against poor pay or long shifts, or accepting that the minimum wage did not cause the collapse of society as we know it.
Steve Norris sums up everything that I think is good about the London Congestion Charging scheme:
"It is hard to see any other local authority committing collective suicide by apeing the London experience"
My translation: It is hard to see anyone other than a politician independent of party machinery attempting something electorally unpopular with the car-owning middle classes. And I've pre-judged the outcome of this.
Additionally, there has been much talk about this elsewhere in relation to the anti-war demo, but credit to BBC News for also asking for submissions from the public of digital images on the congestion charge issue - at firstname.lastname@example.org