A sum of £75 million in Congestion charges is being refused to be paid by the foreign embassy staff in London. The amount was revealed in a report which stated that a total of 71 countries are in debt of over £100,000 since the system began back in 2003.
The US embassy owes over £8 million for driving in London and have yet to pay a penny of it. Japan owes £5.6 million while the Embassy of the Russian Federation owes £5.1 million. UK representatives from Germany, India, Ghana, Poland, Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Sudan complete the remaining total, owing more than £40 million of the debt.
Diplomats aren’t excused from the Congestion Charge payment as it is not a tax but a service. TfL’s general manager, Paul Cowperthwaite said that: “Around two-thirds of embassies in London do pay the charge, but there remains a stubborn minority who refuse to do so, despite our representations through diplomatic channels.” He then went on to confirm that the TfL would continue to pursue the unpaid fees as well as the related penalty charges. The TfL are currently pushing for International Court of Justice to take up the matter as soon as possible.
Any revenue generated by the scheme is to be reinvested in improving London’s transport. The director of the RAC Foundation said: “The population and the streets are set to get much busier. There are a thousand ways in which the cash could be usefully spent, from road maintenance to improving safety,” which further emphasizes the fact that London could do with the money that they are owed.
Steven Jury, Marketing Manager of Motors.co.uk had this to say: “Despite the important nature of the many international delegates visiting London on official business, the congestion charge should be viewed as a custom that should be respected by other countries rather than a needless frivolity that doesn’t apply to their representatives.”
The Congestion Charge was introduced in London with the aims to reduce the flow of traffic into and around the city centre but because of the refusal by some countries to pay the fees, means that traffic in the centre will increase which means that for the average UK Motordriver, it will take longer driving around the city. For the average driver, the charge is £10 if you choose to pay in advance of travel or by midnight on the day you travel. The charge goes up to £12 if you pay it the following day. It can be paid either online or call centre. Those who do not pay the charge receive a £130 fine so it is best to pay the charge as soon as you can.The charge applies between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday.