The One London Party have claimed predictions made by them in January that many more foreign embassies would refuse to pay the congestion charge after the start of the westward extension have been proved correct.
Research by the Liberal Democrats suggest that since the extension of the scheme the embassy revolt has spread with almost 100 embassies now refusing to pay the charge which they claim is a tax. London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Transport for London (TfL) claim it’s a charge for a service which the embassies have to pay.
LibDem Assembly Member Geoff Pope said “In the first 8 days of the western extension coming into force, embassies based there ran up over £150,000 in fines” a move he branded “an insult to law-abiding London taxpayers.”
“You’d hope the Mayor’s closeness with the Mayors of Moscow and Berlin would help ensure their countries would not stick up the proverbial two fingers to London. Russia and Germany have no excuse for not paying up when St Lucia – a country half the size of London – has no payments outstanding.”
The One London Party have previously challenged the Mayor and TfL to seek a High Court ruling to establish the charge’s true legal status.
One London Party leader Damian Hockney, who made the original predictions of non-payment in January said his party was renewing their call “for the Mayor to take proper legal advice, rather than simply using the non payment by embassies as a way of attacking foreign governments of which he disapproves.”
“Both the Mayor and Geoff Pope, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee are attacking embassies in public statements, but are failing to see the main point. The embassies have taken legal advice which tells them they must not pay the charge as it is a tax, from which diplomatic bodies are specifically exempt. Where is the legal advice of those who are attacking the embassies?”