I was so tired today on the train out of London that I had to read Metro just to keep myself awake. I normally avoid the horrid free rag produced by the Daily Mail group, but I actually came across something interesting in it today. Ken Livingstone is having a mighty battle to make embassies in London pay the Congestion Charge – have a look at this from the BBC. The United Arab Emirates has now paid a bill of almost £100000 but the USA is still refusing to pay, claiming diplomatic immunity! What a damned cheek! This is surely not what the special relationship is supposed to entail. They use the roads in London like everyone else – they have no excuse not to pay up. Ken Livingstone is pursuing them, and good luck to him!
Thanks for the clarification… This will probably end up in court one way or another – fingers crossed they have to pay up.
Under the relevant international agreements, embassies are exempt from paying all local taxes. The embassies say this is a tax, the Mayor of London says it isn’t. It mirrors a similar row a couple of years ago about foreign missions to the UN in New York not paying their parking fines.
I’m confused Jon! What is a congestion tax? And why don’t embassies pay it?
It’s a charge of Â£8 to drive a car into central London at peak hours – effectively to reduce traffic and allow buses to run on time. It’s controlled by cameras though, not by barriers – that’s why the embassies keep on driving in and it’s hard to pursue them legally. Details of the scheme can be found here