Examination of Witness (Questions 80 -
WEDNESDAY 23 OCTOBER 2002
80. I am pushing this; I know Mrs Dunwoody will
stop me, but I am still a bit confused. I have no doubt at all
that the monitoring will take place. I have no doubt that it is
in place. But when you have that monitoring over the first few
months against what criteria are you going to judge that monitoring,
the results of that monitoring if you have not got the criteria
(Mr Livingstone) If I find by the end of that two
months that nothing has gone catastrophically wrong, congestion
is down inside the zone, traffic flows into the zone are down
(by the sort of figures I have just talked about) I would consider
this a success. I would then sit down and start talking to Kensington
and Chelsea and Westminster who have argued for a westward extension
if the scheme works.
81. So those would be your criteria.
(Mr Livingstone) Yes.
82. On that last question, are you considering
or have you established any independent auditing of this scheme
other than your own department?
(Mr Livingstone) Everything that is produced will
be publicly available and I am just about to seal a deal I hope
with the Assembly who have appointed their own traffic expert
to advise them about the scheme. The offer I have made to them
is that that person could be the independent assessor of the scheme;
someone appointed by the Assembly, not me. I am prepared to accept
their nominee, effectively, to be the independent monitor of this
83. Who would pay this independent person?
(Mr Livingstone) The Assembly. Generously I imagine,
as everything seems to be in this field.
84. Quite clearly where the boundaries of the
scheme are there could well be turbulence and concern amount businesses
and schools. What representations have you had from people on
the cliff edges of this particular scheme? What impact do you
think it is going to have?
(Mr Livingstone) Literally there have been thousands
of representations. The one area which you heard about earlier
from Kate Hoey where we would rather this was not the boundary
is Kennington Lane. I was born and brought up in Lambeth; I know
it. This is a boundary we would rather not have. But the only
alternative is actually worse. That is the area will focus on
most. As you go along the Euston Road, this is not a community
with people popping across the Euston Road.
85. Before you wander away from that, Mr Mayor,
in what sense? Because after all the Kennington area is not an
affluent area, as you know. What alternative would be worse?
(Mr Livingstone) We could make a slight diversion
slightly enlarging the zone.
86. Why did you decide on the Inner Ring Road?
(Mr Livingstone) Because it is the best available
road as a boundary. The London First Scheme looked at the Inner
Ring Road down to the river. ROCOL then looked at the Inner Ring
Road. Of the two, I found at public meetings I did in the north
Southwark and north Lambeth area people arguing and that if there
was going to be a zone they wanted to be inside it rather than
outside it. So my first decision was not to go for the river as
a boundary but the Inner Ring Road. But also that was the professional
advice that this was the best route to go. We could make a slight
diversion but there is not a better route other than Kennington
Lane. But it is a route we would prefer not to have to take. It
is the one area where there is a genuine community and there will
87. Can I ask about the funds collected, the
hypothecated funds. In the short term of course the best prospect
for improving public transport is buses. Inevitably if London's
public transport is to be improved the tube needs to have substantial
investment. What will be the funding relationship for London Underground
from hypothecated funds and how long do you think, if these funds
are flying in that direction, there will be substantial improvement
for tube passengers?
(Mr Livingstone) As I said, the increase in cost of
the bus contracts will absorb all of this. There is one area I
am looking at as a call on the congestion charge revenue which
is the anomaly that child fares on public transporthalf
faresend at 16. And yet now the bulk of our children stay
at school until 17. This is a discouragement. I know that the
government would prefer to make it easer for young people to stay,
so we are looking at increasing the half fare cut off point to
18. This would most probably take £40 million to £50
million out of that; it is not cheap. But it also has the benefit
of encouraging our young people to stay in education.
88. Why are you not introducing this scheme
before the improvements to the public services, like the underground?
(Mr Livingstone) The change in the nature of the PPP
contract during the last two years has been to push the improvements
to the scheme beyond the first seven and a half year tranche.
There will be some real service improvements visible on the Jubilee
Line with an extra carriage coming on each of the trains, and
the opening of the Mothballed exit at Canary Wharf Station. Beyond
that we do not see any real improvements until about 2009. Whether
there will be improvements on the train operating company services
I doubt. Therefore we are focussing all the improvements on the
buses. All the extra capacity we are providing in buses. We anticipate
a small shift of people onto the tubes and trains, but the service
is so poor. The increase in bus ridership is beginning to pick
up, people are switching from car to bus where the service has
improved. Small, but very welcome after years of reverse.
89. What protection are you making within the
system to make sure that the hypothecated funds that you raise
will be separate and additional to what you have already as funds
within your budget?
(Mr Livingstone) By law it all has to be spent on
the transport budget. But then our plans for expanding the bus
service, building cross-railwe have a shopping list about
£25 billion long. There is no problem making sure we spend
the money on transport schemes. The order in which those schemes
go ahead requires the approval of central government in everything
except the buses.
90. What will be the relationship in funding
terms between the London Underground and the hypothecated funds
(Mr Livingstone) This scheme will be in place before
the Underground comes under my control. Therefore I am not setting
a budget for the Underground for next year. We might get it about
the beginning of the financial year and I will inherit whatever
budget the government has left me for it. Therefore all the income
we are predicting for the first year congestion charge will go
in perhaps extra expenditure on half-fares for 16 to 18 year olds
and the rest will go into expanding the bus service inbroadlysouth
and south-east London.
91. What about using hypothecated funding for,
say, additional traffic police?
(Mr Livingstone) I am hoping that the increase in
traffic police will be born by the council tax this year. All
my increases in policing have been born by the council tax. It
is about the one thing that people do not mind paying for.
92. Well, it depends where. Are you getting
a guarantee that none of the hypothecated funds will be used for
paying consultants and paying for advice that you require for
the congestion charging itself, that this will very specifically
be used for the increased level of spending within the transport
(Mr Livingstone) I absolutely guarantee that. The
obvious advantage for me is that anyone promising to scrap it
would have to start talking about how they are going to pay for
the service improvements that this has delivered with the loss
of income from the revenue.
93. Do you honestly believe that you will survive
(Mr Livingstone) I think I will. This has been an
intense debate for three years in London politics. The scheme
was first thought up in 1964. I am sure you have seen the government
White Paper. Londoners are not fools; they know something has
to be done. For all the furor in the press, the opinion polls
have stayed relatively evenly balanced. But significantly when
you examine the views of people in and immediately adjacent to
the zone, there is a comfortable majority in favour. When you
look at people in the outer boroughs, there is a comfortable majority
against. I think a lot of people are assuming the zone is much
bigger than it is and will displace a lot of traffic into Bromley
and into Barnet which, of course, in those two areas, you are
unlikely to see any impact of this at all.
94. That does not quite fit with the evidence
we have taken from Kennington.
(Mr Livingstone) There will be a difference in Kennington.
If you actually take the whole of inner London, there is a comfortable
majority in favour of the congestion charge. If you take London
as a whole it is much more evenly balanced. In parts of outer
London they are two to one against it. I think that is a genuine
fear that it is a very much bigger zone. And in outer London public
transport is so much poorer. They do not have the same level of
95. You are not saying they do not trust what
you are telling them, are you, Mr Mayor?
(Mr Livingstone) I do not think they trust any of
Chairman: I am sure you are speaking for yourself.
96. Do you agree with the Freight Transport
Association who say that the charges will not have any impact
on the timing of deliveries?
(Mr Livingstone) This is to reduce congestion and
therefore I would have been quite happy to exempt commercial vehicles
completely. That is why I reduced the notional charge from £15
a day to £5. If you were to abolish it completely then a
lot of wily Londoners would just buy vans instead of cars. No
business is driving round central London for the fun of it. They
are there deliberately doing deliveries and getting in and out
as rapidly as possible. There is no point in actually putting
a burden on them.
97. Does that mean you are accepting that congestion
from that source will not be reduced?
(Mr Livingstone) No, I would be very surprised, given
the cost of operating in London, whether any of the major businesses
that are doing deliveries have got wasted capacity.
98. Are you concerned you might affect small
(Mr Livingstone) Undoubtedly there will be losers
in this scheme. If you are dealing with one white van man who
is going to one point inside the zone, working there all day and
coming out, that charge is going to be a charge they are going
to have to pass on or be absorbed. If you are dealing with somebody
who is making a lot of deliveriesa locksmith or a window
cleanerif the congestion is really reduced and they can
do another job in each day, they will be in. So there will be
winners and losers. I have never gone out and said to Londoners:
"You are going to enjoy this". It is going to be very
painful for many people, but people recognise that you just cannot
go on with this current situation.
99. What are the implications for taxis?
(Mr Livingstone) I suspect taxis will not have any
great problem. They are exempt from the charge. If anything, they
might get more usage. There will be some people who leave their
car at home instead of driving into work, will come in by public
transport, but getting around London during the day, because they
do not have their own car, will have to use a taxi. But there
are not that many people, I think, driving in then driving around
all day in central London.