One of the major vehicle issues in Central London neighbourhoods like Marylebone is the parking of diplomat cars and many of them not paying the congestion charge after the US embassy decided not to pay it. The amount due in total is substantial to the tune of £129 million at the end of the 2020 calendar year. This could for example pay for all the concessionary fares we have for Londoners annually!
One thing is for sure that if residents of London did not pay their congestion charge for their car, TfL would certainly pursue them to end of the world! So whilst l was still an AM this winter l asked what is the latest on TfL pursuing legal action against embassies not paying their outstanding congestion charge
Now proceedings in the International Court of Justice or another international tribunal can only be brought by Her Majesty’s Government, not by Transport for London (TfL).
The Mayor responded to my written question by telling me his Deputy Mayor for Transport wrote to the Secretary of State for Foreign,Commonwealth and Development Affairs asking him to pursue this matter but has yet to receive a reply. The Commissioner has also previously written to the Secretary of State for Foreign,Commonwealth and Development Affairs on TfL’s behalf but has not yet received a formal response either. In the meantime, Foreign,Commonwealth & Development Affairs officials write to diplomatic missions and international organisations with large Congestion Charge debts annually, to encourage payment.
The US embassy has racked up by far the biggest bill for the congestion charge, at £13.3 million due last December 2020, due largely to their refusal to pay it. And as there is a new President in the USA, will we ask him to pay what is owed?
With President Joe Biden, maybe we can make some headway on the issue. Sure enough he is due to be in the UK next month for G7 Conference in Cornwall via London, an ideal opportunity to raise this issue again. Clearly if the US pays up so will all the other diplomats who owe Londoners these monies.