Yesterday’s London Evening Standard carried a report that Tories would soon u-turn on their long-held opposition to what CCHQ once dubbed the ‘Kengestion Charge’. As the day went on it became clear that the situation was more complex.
It is likely that David Cameron would prefer a greater commitment to green forms of taxation like the congestion charge and has faced taunts from Mayor Livingstone that current London policy contradicts his environmental rhetoric. Angie Bray, spokesman for London Assembly Tories on the issue, has made it clear that current policy stays, however:
“The C-Charge is not a green policy but rather an expensive failure, damaging local shops and restaurants without having a significant impact on congestion levels. We believe that our opposition to the congestion charge will be fully vindicated when the results are in at next week’s local elections.”
In the spirit of ‘localisation’, Chris Grayling, David Cameron’s transport spokesman, has agreed that it will be for London Tories to decide on future congestion charge policy:
“Congestion charging in our cities is a matter for local politicians and not national ones. Conservatives in London have consistently opposed Livingstone’s congestion charge.”
Policy on the congestion charge will be a key decision for the Tory Mayoral candidate – due to be selected by open primary election.