Ken reveals £5 London toll and calls Tube firms 'scum'

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The Independent Online

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, launched an astonishing attack yesterday on companies bidding to run the Tube network and announced plans for a road toll around the centre of the capital.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, launched an astonishing attack yesterday on companies bidding to run the Tube network and announced plans for a road toll around the centre of the capital.

Under controversial proposals to cut traffic jams, motorists will be charged £5 a day to drive into central London.

And in a speech to transport workers, Mr Livingstone characterised the firms involved in the London Underground bidding process as "the worst scum of modern capitalism". He claimed some of them had been involved in illegal arms trading, had close links to authoritarian regimes and had caused the deaths of their own workers. He made the accusations after investigations commissioned by Greater London Authority from the Ethical Consumer Research Association.

Mr Livingstone's road toll would be levied between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday and would rise to £15 for heavy goods vehicles. Anyone attempting to avoid payment would face a fine of at least £100.

Mr Livingstone's plan provoked outrage from the Conservatives and several of the capital's local authorities.

The proposed toll zone would cover an area north and south of the Thames bounded by Marylebone Road, Euston Road, Pentonville Road, Tower Bridge, Elephant and Castle, Vauxhall Bridge and Hyde Park Corner. Disabled drivers would be exempt. It is calculated that the charges would reduce traffic by 12 per cent and raise £200m, which would be spent on public transport.

While it was emphasised that the toll plan was a long- term project, the new Mayor is to take more immediate measures, including a flat-rate bus fare across London.

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