Mayor in denial as anger grows over tunnel toll

By Rob Virtue on October 30, 2012 1:37 PM |

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Mayor Boris Johnson has denied he is backing a toll on the Blackwall Tunnel - despite a Transport for London report proposing it.

The consultation into more river crossings in east London was launched on Monday and called for users of the Blackwall link to pay for the construction of another tunnel at nearby Silvertown.

The move provoked anger from critics with London Assembly Member for City and East John Biggs accusing the mayor, who is chair of TfL, of backing an unfair tax on east and south-east Londoners.

However, in a surprise development - considering his role overseeing the transport body - the mayor denied he was in support of a toll, which would start at £2 a journey.

He LBC radio on Tuesday: "We've got to look at all the options of how to finance that and it is only sensible that in the consultation which is going on at the moment we should ask people about tolling. I certainly won't be putting in a toll in my Mayoral career... my Mayoral lifetime."

This comes despite TfL stating in the report charging drivers was the "most appropriate way to fund" the proposals as there is "no funding set aside in TfL's budget for these major infrastructure projects".

TfL added users of both the Blackwall and Silvertown crossings would have to be tolled as otherwise there would be a burden on the other.

The transport body added no toll would be brought in until the completion of the Silvertown link, expected to be completed by 2021.

Labour's John Biggs insisted public money needs to be found for the link and criticised the mayor for the proposal.

"In his first term as mayor, Boris removed the congestion charge on west London but in the East End he thinks we will benefit from having new taxes imposed on us," he said.

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"Boris has shown he's prepared to throw money at his pet projects like the cable car, which is part-funded with public money, so he needs to find a way of funding this.

"This is for the sake of regeneration in south and east London and improving the economy of the area. Charging people more money will have a negative impact on the local economy."

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