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ESSENTIAL WORKERS TO FACE CONGESTION CHARGES

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GLA Conservatives today condemned the Labour members of the London Assembly for refusing to back a motion calling o...
GLA Conservatives today condemned the Labour members of the London Assembly for refusing to back a motion calling on the secretary of state for transport to overrule Ken Livingstone and offer exemptions for all care workers, voluntary body workers, emergency service personnel and public sector workers from his controversial congestion charge. Angie Bray, Conservative transport spokesman, had proposed the motion after recently revealing that the secretary of state has the legal authority to provide exemptions from the mayor's proposed congestion charge scheme. This is enshrined in both the Greater London Authority Act 1999 and the Transport Act 2000. Ms Bray said:

'Presently care workers, others in the voluntary sector and public servants such as nurses and firemen will be forced to pay over£1,000 a year extra in taxation just to be able to carry on with their work.

'Why should Londoners who are providing a service to the community, often at unsociable hours, be forced to pay to do so?

'The Labour Party's refusal to accept this motion means that they are assisting Ken Livingstone in creating a toll tax that will hit the poorest hardest. Today's events simply confirm that only the Conservatives are sticking up for the poorest in the capital.'

Notes

Motion, debated today at the GLA, and submitted in the name of Angie Bray and seconded by Brian Coleman:

This assembly recognises that the secretary of state for transport has the legal authority to provide exemptions for the Mayor's proposed congestion charge scheme. In light of a Joseph Rowntree Foundation report, stating that those on the lowest incomes in society are hit the hardest by congestion charging policies, and the chairman of TFL's continued failure to offer exemptions, this assembly urges the secretary of state to step in and ensure that all care workers, voluntary body workers, emergency service personnel and public sector workers receive exemption from this new tax.

In the Evening Standard (27 September 2001) it is reported that: 'Mr Byers is now coming under pressure to lift the threat to GPs, health visitors, firefighters, the police and other vital workers by issuing exemptions. The Westminster Primary Care Group, which represents staff tending to residents in central London, has written to Mr Livingstone voicing 'serious concerns' over the effect of congestion charging on GPs, nurses, health visitors and community physiotherapists. The RAC Foundation said it was known that the mayor's Transport for London department wanted as few exemptions as possible and said the issue could lead to conflict between the mayor and the government. The department of transport confirmed that Mr Byers had powers to grant national exemptions for those penalised by congestion charging. A spokesman said the exemptions would also apply in London.'

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has said that those on the lowest incomes in society are hit the hardest by congestion charging policies.

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