For those that don’t know, London has a congestion toll for the center of London to discourage people from driving into central London. It keeps the roads clear and the air cleaner.
It’s a policy that actually works.
Despite this – there’s one organization that refuses to play ball and pay the congestion charge: the US Embassy.
From the Guardian:
Boris Johnson is “adamant” that embassies in London should “live up to their obligations”, City Hall said today as it emerged that the total of unpaid congestion charges for diplomats based in the capital is close to hitting the £50m mark.
The long-running dispute over some embassies’ refusal to pay the charge and fines accrued for refusing to pay to drive in the congestion zone was brought to the fore as Caroline Pidgeon, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London assembly, said the total unpaid figure had risen from £48.7m to £49.4m since the start of the year.
Pidgeon said the amount in unpaid congestion charges and penalty charge notices owed by embassies was so large that it could pay for more than 260 new buses on London’s streets or reduce fares for the city’s commuters.
Figures secured under a freedom of information request revealed that the US embassy owes the most – £4.9 m on more than 44,000 notices since the charge was introduced in 2003. Russia is next, on £4.3m, then Japan, on £3.5m, followed by Germany, on £3.4 m.
“It is disgraceful that £50m is now being denied to Londoners by embassies that dodge paying the congestion charge,” Pidgeon said.
“The small minority of embassies that think it is acceptable to evade paying the charge are insulting each and every Londoner.”
The issues will become irrelevant in a few years when the new US embassy is built in a different part of London – outside of the congestion charge zone.
As an American – I really think that the embassy should step up and pay the charge.
What do you think?