Louis Susman, the new U.S. Ambassador to the UK, arrived in London this morning to officially take up his new post.
The appointment of Susman, a former banker and lawyer, was announced earlier this year by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate last month.
The new Ambassador, who is accompanied by his wife, said: “Marjorie and I are delighted to be here in the United Kingdom. And I am grateful to the President for the confidence that he’s shown in asking me to represent the United States with our most trusted ally.”
Susman said he was “ready to get to work on issues such as our mission in Afghanistan, climate change and the global economic recovery, which are important to all of us.”
Other issues he’s likely to have to deal with include the non-compliance of the new embassy building with London’s planning guidance and growing calls for the embassy to pay more than £3.5m in outstanding Congestion Charge fines.
On Monday the State Department dismissed calls for a return to the previous practice of paying the charge, saying: “We believe the charge to be a tax that is prohibited by various treaties.”
In response Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, said: “All the international evidence and legal opinion clearly states that the Congestion Charge is exactly that – it is a charge not a tax and embassies cannot leave bills unpaid. Indeed let us never forget that for the first two years of its existence the US Embassy did actually pay the Congestion Charge. The US Embassy position is indefensible and an appalling example to other embassies who follow the lead of the US.”