Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120
WEDNESDAY 23 OCTOBER 2002
120. What assessment have you made of the impact
of the scheme on the M25?
(Mr Turner) An assessment has been made and there
is no impact at all on the M25. The effect of the scheme really
does peter out around about the North Circular and South Circular
or before that. Obviously there will be one or two people who
may be driving in from Hertfordshire or Surrey who change, but
the effect on the M25 is insignificant; unmeasurable.
121. Can I press you on that point. To give
you an example, if you are a firm in Hendon doing a delivery in
Croydon and you are paying to go through central London and the
area round the congestion charging zone has become more congested
as traffic is displaced from the central zone, then the M25 becomes
an alternative; pop out, go round, come in. Are you actually saying
that you can find no evidence at all that will be no impact whatever,
in which case I find it very hard to believe. Or have you done
detailed research that actually quantifies that?
(Mr Turner) I am not saying that the example you gave
is unlikely to occur, but the numbers that are involved just do
not figure in the daily variation of traffic flows. They are totally
and utterly unmeasurable.
122. Will you be working with the Department
and the Highways Agency to track the consequences of the scheme
on the M25 as well as in the inner areas?
(Mr Turner) We are not carrying out surveys and monitoring
at the M25 level because it is totally and utterly irrelevant
and outside it. However, the monitoring work that we are carrying
out would identify, if you like, a mismatch, which means we would
be able to draw conclusions thatwhich I think is absolutely
inconceivablethere were significant increases on the M25.
123. Even an increase of half a per cent of
people driving on the M25 as a result of people not driving through
the centre of London would be very significant.
(Mr Turner) I entirely agree, but half a per cent
is well below what I would expect it to be. We are talking about
handfuls of vehicles.
124. I tried last week to get an answer on this
from Mr Turner; I tried a few minutes ago from Mr Livingstone,
so I will try you, Mr Kiley. Apparently there is going to be no
impact whatsoever on the outer London boroughs as a result of
the congestion charges, yet the Mayor is making money available
now for schemes such as controlled parking zones even though he
thinks there is not going to be an impact. Can you guarantee that
if local authorities take no action now because there is not going
to be an impact on the outer London boroughs, but in the next
financial year, if congestion charges do have a significant impact
around stations in all the outer London boroughs, that money will
then be made available for local authorities to implement schemes?
(Mr Kiley) Unequivocally yes.
(Mr Kiley) We have earmarked this yearas we
will next yearanywhere from £10 million to £20
million for investments in these kinds of initiatives which we
are not really going to be masters of until it actually begins
and we see where we need to make investment.
126. Could you just take us through why we went
for congestion charges and not a parking fee? How did you convince
the Mayor given that when he came into office he was firmly of
the opinion that this was a regressive flat rate tax? And bearing
in mind that already London boroughs raise £320 million a
year from parking charges (that is without a workplace fee being
charged). Surely that is a more efficient, less bureaucratic way,
easier to police way of raising money to invest in public transport.
(Mr Turner) There are a number of points there. First
of all, I did not convince the Mayor. I think it is fairly clear
in his manifesto that he supports congestion charging and during
the election campaign he made that change. I thinkI would
like to thinkthat as he hinted at that the ROCOL (the Review
Of Charging Options for London report) convinced him of that.
The reason I would like to think that is because I was part of
that working party and that working party's work clearly showed
that if you are talking about reducing congestionwhich
is what the Mayor has said the scheme is aimed at and, indeed,
what the legislation says the prime purpose of this scheme should
beit is best achieved by congestion charging in London.
It is not necessarily the caseas I heard the witness earlierin
Nottingham because they have large amounts of terminating traffic.
We have a significant amount of traffic that actually drives not
right through the centre of central London but crossescuts
off the corner, if you likeand that traffic can only really
be addressed by congestion charges; it would not be addressed
at all by workplace parking levies. The assertion you made that
a workplace parking levy is easier to operate that congestion
charging, I do not think is necessarily the case. Particularly
I am concernedwe are concerned in Londonabout the
enforceability of workplace parking levies and that was the issue
that again ROCOL drew attention to because the legislation to
enable people to inspect premises bearing in mind that in Londonagain
different from Nottinghama lot of the private non-residential
parking is actually occurring underground so you would not be
able to easily inspect it to see how much of it should be taxed
and how much the levies should be. I think the enforcement of
workplace parking is a real issue.
127. Could you answer the question that the
Mayor passed on to you earlier on. Who are the people who are
going to be discouraged from using their cars as a result of congestion
(Mr Turner) We believe, from the work that we have
done, that it is likely to be the car commuters from outer Londonand
I do not believe that there are many people who drive outside
London into the congestion charging areainto the congestion
charging area and I think, because of the unique nature of central
London where 90 per cent of the people who come in to work in
central London, they do so by public transport anyway. There is
a very goodby comparison; it could be betterpublic
transport system in central London. It is not actually a regressive
charge in the sense that those people tend to be users of public
transport and the bus system.
128. So it is commuters from outer London who
do not stop in London.
(Mr Turner) Commuters from outer London who are coming
in to central London and also people travelling from, shall we
say, Haringey through to Wandsworth.
129. So they are parking within London. This
is my point. You are saying that a workplace charge would not
affect those people, but their destination actually is in London.
(Mr Turner) Not going from Haringey to Wandsworth.
I am saying that those type of people are a movement that would
not be affected by workplace parking charge.
130. Sorry to pursue this, but why would they
not if they are parking in Wandsworth? The point about a workplace
parking charge and actually placing a levy on all parking right
across London not just within the boundary that you have arbitrarily
drawn around the middle of London.
(Mr Turner) I misunderstood you, sorry. You are talking
about a pan-London workplace parking charge.
(Mr Turner) I do not think we have considered that
level of intervention and certainly the ROCOL report did look
at some of that but the level of intervention that would be involved
there would be quite difficult to actually achieve because the
development areas in outer London rely heavily on people actually
driving to them in terms of out-of-town shopping and the like,
and as a consequence the impact on the economy of outer London
of a workplace parking charge would be really very severe indeed.
Clive Efford: With all due respect that is all
to do with exemptions, exactly as it is with the congestion charging.
You have exempted after 6.30pm. Why on earth you have stopped
it at 6.30pm I will never know, because the congestion bound for
the West End is enormous after 6.30pm. But that is all matter
of setting the scheme up and discussing where you have concessions,
is it not? That is the same as you have just done.
132. Are you telling us that you took a value
judgment which was in effect a political judgment?
(Mr Turner) Sorry?
133. Are you not really saying, Mr Turner, that
the Mayor took what was, in effect a political judgment, with
a small "p"?
(Mr Turner) Absolutely, and largely an economic judgement
in terms of the totality of London in terms of workplace parking
levy. Bearing in mind we are talking about central London and
we are talking about a relatively small number of people in terms
of the total population of Londoners affected, as opposed to the
seven and a half million people throughout London.
134. What enhancements in public transport have
you promised as part of this scheme?
(Mr Kiley) We have been investing intensively in our
bus service since the Mayor took office. There has been a 14 per
cent increase in ridership to date. Fares have been kept low in
part because of the need to get support of people who want to
chose to take another mode in other than car. I think I should
pause just to remind all of us that of all the people who are
coming into London on any given day to work 85 per cent of them
are already travelling by public transport or some means other
than automobile. So we have a relatively small piece of that whole
pie that we are targeting to get a further inducement in to get
them to use public transportation. I do not think it will be that
complicated. The bus service, I think, will be more than ample
to support people who want to make a change. The Underground service
which, we all know, leaves almost everything to be desired, is
still accessible to some people who are driving and as Derek mentioned
we could achieve our goal if we got one person per carriage through
the height of the peak hour to use the Underground. We are not
going to give up on the Underground as an alternative, but we
recognise that it does tend to be forbidding for some people because
of its reputation and because of its erratic service. Let me also
respond to Mr Efford's point about workplace parking. I do not
think that we should fall into the trap of believing that congestion
charging is the single tool and the panacea that will solve all
of central London's congestion problems, never mind all of London's
congestion problems You would hang us from the highest yardarm
if we even came close to making that point. I do not think that
any wise person looking down the road would give up on workplace
parking done in a calculated, sophisticated way as an alternative,
as one more tool in the toolkit to try to get some control over
traffic in and out of central London. When you stop and think
that the London Plan predicts that there will be over 200,000
new jobs in central London over the next 11 or 12 years, then
we know we have a big bough wave that is going to come down on
us even with congestion charging. We are going to have to be flexible
on the hours of congestion charging as we get into it and experience
it. We do not know for certain that we have the right time frame
right now; we think it is pretty good, but we will find out in
the event. We also do not know whether the charge is truly a deterrent
to most people. We are going to learn a lot from all of this.
By that I do not mean necessarily the hard way by having a project
that does not work at all, but because some of the variables in
itlike price and like time of dayare subject to
135. And you can do all of that in two months?
(Mr Kiley) Not in two months. I do not want to try
to suggest that I know exactly what the Mayor meant when he said
he was going to give it two months.
136. You mean you do not know at all, Mr Kiley?
(Mr Kiley) I have some idea. I think he thought if
the world were coming to an end because of this, then he would
probably look for the nearest exit door.
137. Do we define that as "his" world
was coming to an end?
(Mr Kiley) In my case at least it would be a collective
Chairman: There will always be room for you,
138. Can I just say on that, you are talking
about bus services and the Underground, these two areas specifically,
do you think the charges themselves are going to cover that at
£5? When is the first opportunity of you reviewing the £5
(Mr Turner) The Mayor has indicated publicly that
he will not review the charge during his first term of office.
That is a commitment.
139. Second term of office?
(Mr Turner) The second term of office he has made
no public pronouncement that I am aware of, although he did indicate
to the Committee this afternoon that he thought there was a possibility
that the £5 charge may not be sufficient. The balance that
we have been talking about between charge and reduction in trafficas
you have heard from other witnessesis consistent with what
has happened elsewhere in the world, what other people are predicting.
The work that we did in ROCOL set the elasticities for this in
1998; obviously inflation has taken place and there has been some
change, however the work we have doneand continue to doto
monitor the public's view of this charge does tend to suggest
that we should achieve between about 10 and 15 per cent reduction
in traffic entering central London with the £5 charge.