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Sunday, 15 September, 2002, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Congestion charge is 'road tax for the rich'
David Frost and Ken Livingstone
The Mayor said he was taking a political risk
London Mayor Ken Livingstone and one of his chief rivals have clashed on the issue of congestion charging.

West Ham MP Tony Banks told Breakfast with Frost he would review the charge immediately, if elected.

"It isn't really a congestion charge at all, it's road taxing, it's road pricing," he said.

The former sports minister is among seven Labour candidates who put themselves forward on Friday to challenge Ken Livingstone for the job in the 2004 elections.


The only reason for not doing it (congestion charging) is the political risk

Ken Livingstone
Mr Banks told the programme: "It's saying if you can afford to come into London, you can carry on congesting the city if you can't, well, that's tough.

"I think we are treating the symptoms and we are doing it in a way that penalises the poorer driver rather than the richer driver."

Mr Banks claimed there was "no climate of trust" between the government and Mr Livingstone, who left the Labour Party to run as an independent in the last elections.

But Mr Livingstone told the programme he was surprised Mr Banks had come out against the congestion charge.

Thursday shortlist

He said: "In all the thousands of letters I had about congestion charging before I decided to go ahead, he wasn't one of those who made representations not to do so."

He admitted that he could not be sure of the scheme's success because it had never been tried on the same scale before.

Mr Livingstone said: "Nobody has wanted to be the first and if the situation in London wasn't so bad, I would wait for someone else to it as well.

"The only reason for not doing it is the political risk."

A shortlist will be drawn up next Thursday and the final choice will be made by London party members and trade unions.

The congestion charge, in which motorists wishing to drive into central London will have to pay a 5 toll, is due to be introduced in February 2003.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Tony Banks on Breakfast with Frost
"I don't honestly believe the congestion charge is the way to deal with the problems of congestion in London"

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

13 Sep 02 | Politics
11 Sep 02 | Politics
23 Aug 02 | Politics
23 Jul 02 | Politics
26 Feb 02 | UK
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