Proposed Greenwich Congestion Charge
In 2005/6, Transport for London (TfL) and Greenwich Council conducted a joint study of “road traffic demand management” in the Greenwich area. This included consideration of a congestion charge on the area bounded by the A102 and A2 — which includes Greenwich park and Greenwich town centre.
The proposal also covered the Blackwall Tunnel, and one option that was discussed, even if a wide area charge like the central London congestion tax was not implemented, was to impose a toll on the Blackwall Tunnel. The Blackwall Tunnel and the A2 are of course the main routes used by traffic from South-East London and Kent to reach central London.
What the ABD did
The Association of British Drivers mounted a major public campaign to have road tolls in Greenwich thrown out. The public do not like road tolls of any form, and these proposals were in essence just an attempt by anti-car fanatics to raise the cost of motoring and restrict your freedom of movement. An on-line petition was set up.
The ABD also circulated over 100,000 leaflets to residents of the borough of Greenwich and received hundreds of responses.
As we received an enormous response to our leaflet on the proposed congestion charge in Greenwich, but Transport for London still had not published their detailed proposals, we held a public meeting on Saturday the 22nd September 2007 at Mycenae House in Blackheath.
On the 4th November 2007, we issued a press release which showed that based on the surveys undertaken by Transport for London, there was overwhelming opposition to any congestion charge scheme in Greenwich. Only 16% supported such an idea, with 77% opposed according to the latest survey.
Soon after the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said the following in response to a question from a Member during his Mayor's Question Time session at the Greater London Assembly:
1.1. He was approached by Greenwich Council as congestion is very severe. Greenwich town centre is more congested than any other in London, with 50% of traffic being through traffic.
2. They have looked at all the options, both wide area and more local schemes.
3. Greenwich may pursue a small area scheme in a ‘discrete’ zone.
4. There will not be tolling on the Blackwall Tunnel.
5. It is up to Greenwich Council if they pursue a scheme for a small discrete zone that does not impact on any other boroughs or the A2.
The ABD had these comments on that statement:
“To suggest that Greenwich is more congested that any other town centre in London is questionable. Other centres in south-east London such as Lewisham and Blackheath village are also very heavily congested at certain times. We suggest this is a claim that is unproveable.
In fact from the TfL surveys that were undertaken, some 55% of traffic is defined as ‘through traffic’ because it originates outside the ‘cordon’ used for the study area and also has a destination outside. But the cordon included a very wide area and within it are the A2, A20, A205 South Circular, and the A102 Blackwall Tunnel approach. So obviously a lot of the traffic was through traffic as the London Borough of Greenwich just happens to sit across many major routes. It is simply nonsensical to suggest that this is unreasonable or that it is a problem that needs tackling, and the Mayor was seemingly trying to mislead the public by suggesting that this 55% figure referred to Greenwich town centre alone.”
Although we welcomed the Mayor's comments as they indicated that although a wide area scheme that covers the A2 and Blackwall Tunnel was probably no longer on the agenda, it did not mean that a more limited road toll or congestion charge was not still being contemplated.
Soon after (in 2008) Mayor Livingstone was of course ejected by the electorate in favour of Boris Johnson who had publicly opposed any extension of congestion charging to Greenwich or other outer London boroughs. He also made a manifesto commitment to reinstate the Blackwall Tunnel Tidal Flow. Indeed it was said by some commentators that Mr Johnson won the election because of the votes of Londoners in South East London stimulated by a local motorists pressure group, but you can take that with a pinch of salt.
It would seem likely that no proposals for a congestion charge in Greenwich will be carried forward in the foreseeable future, at least while Mr Johnson remains Mayor. Unfortunately he has subsequently reneged on his commitment to reinstate the Blackwall Tunnel Tidal Flow system.
More details of our campaign are available on the ABD London site page Greenwich Road Tolls
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