• Dec 1st 2006 at 8:07PM
  • 24
Some of you may recall a couple of years ago when London instituted its congestion charge to help ease traffic and parking concerns in the city. Many people balked, but the £8 a day ($16) fee has indeed reduced congestion and raised revenue. Not everybody is pleased about paying the fee, but a few have made it a point to really raise non-payment to an art form. Case in point, America's Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Robert Holmes Tuttle. Tuttle and his embassy staff have amassed £1,000,000 ($2M) in fees and fines for going more than a year without paying the congestion charge.
In the process they have accumulated 10,486 non-payment citations. While the US is by far the worst offender, several African nations have also thumbed their noses at the fees. London Mayor Ken Livingstone has threatened legal action to get the US to pay up. In their defense, the US Embassy says this is a tax, which they would be exempt from. Livingstone counters that it is in fact a fee:

"They are entitled to their opinion but it is for the British authorities to decide what is a tax and what is not a tax in the UK. Both the UK government and the Greater London Authority consider the congestion charge a charge for a service: reduced congestion. The issue here is clear: the US government rightly expects international diplomats living in Washington to respect US law; we are entitled to expect US diplomats living in London to respect British law. British diplomats in the US pay American tolls and charges."

Tuttle also happens to be one of the principals behind the Tuttle-Click string of auto dealers in Orange County, California. Stay tuned, this could get ugly.

[Source: Yorkshire Post Today via Hemmings]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ok so they all paid some fees at some time, how very BIG of them.
      It would be nice if we could all pick and choose if and when we paid parking or congestion fee's or any other taxes but that's not how it works.
      Just because you don't agree with the laws of the land doesn't mean you can avoid them, a government agency should know and respect that.

      These people need to pay up, its just part of the evils of living or working in a major city, I'm sure their wages are not small, stop whining, be a law abiding citizen and pay the fee's.

      By the way Don Loki you are assuming a lot, Id bet its the same few people who avoid paying, while other are upstanding and pay their way.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I see a news article has just done a feauture on diplomatic immunity http://www.a1articles.com/article_106132_30.html
      • 8 Years Ago
      As a Brit, I'm against the congestion charge, and can perfectly understand the ambassador's point of view.

      The charge is incredibly flawed; in fact, congestion levels within the zone have gone up to pretty much the same level that they were before it was implemented - the charge isn't working. And now the mayor is expanding the zone further west simply as a means of raising more money. As others have said, it's just another tax on the motorist.

      I hope the US ambassador fights this and wins!
      • 8 Years Ago
      #2 (Proud Japanese) - *Ideally*, diplomats are supposed to observe the host country's laws, pay fees for services rendered, etc. But the real world isn't so nice and neat. Diplomats sidestep prosecution on a regular basis, from drunk driving, to spying, to outright assassinations.

      And if diplomatic immunity allows diplomats to get away with murder, what can disgruntled transportation officials possibly do to them? Invade the embassies to tow their cars parked inside?

      • 8 Years Ago
      #16. Agree. He should tell that Stalinist vermin Livingstone to come and get it. It doesn't matter if the system doesn't work. It's just a hidden way of redistributing income. Those bastards who ripped us poor people off by buyng nice cars. Let's take some money from them.
      • 8 Years Ago
      So moronic...

      I guess they do not need to pay for highway tolls either.

      Funny to see the US going again against environment...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ugly Americanism, no, Fugly Americanism.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Diplomats are to be diplomatic. Tolls on bridges (which appears to have escaped #3. epp_b) or rent on buildings are not exempt, nor anything to do with diplomatic immunity. Americans must pay their share like everyone else. They are not the privileged class and they collect their dues in America as well.

      If the system is working, then what's the problem. NYC is congested to the point that less and less people who live there have a car. They can't park the dam thing.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's not a law, it's an ordinance... IOW it's not a criminal offense to get a parking ticket or have to pay a congestion charge... ordinances are slimy, they're really just taxes with a facade of law.

      As far as embassies paying the fees... (tongue in cheek) maybe they should carpool in Minis so if they get attacked they can all be in one car and be killed easier... or ride the tube so it's easier for nefarious people to follow them around... or maybe they should move outside the city limits to avoid contributing to congestion? I'm sure there are tons of foreigners needing embassy services out in the countryside. =P
      • 8 Years Ago
      it actually doesn't matter what the money goes to ... the point isn't to get the government the money ... the point is to impose a cost on the user that creates an approximation to his internalizing the congestion externality. that is, without the fee, we go about using roads as if our use of them has no impact on congestion; after all, we're just one car, right? but in fact our one car does impose a specific amount of added congestion (which we ignore when deciding whether or not to drive that day). by imposing a fee, the government can cause us to act as if we do internalize the externality we impose on congestion. it's actually better for everyone ... and the money can go anywhere really; as long as it doesn't go back to the driver, or else it would be ineffective. it's irrelevant that the roads were built with tax money ... that's a totally different issue; namely, the provision of a public good, for which tax money is often used. i'm not saying that user fees never go to paying for roads (india is a great, efficient example), but if the road's already been built & it has congestion, a user fee is actually to everyone's benefit, and it doesn't really matter where the money goes.

      you think you wouldn't want to pay $16/day, but have you ever commuted to a city for work? commuters in atlanta spend hours in traffic every day. i bet they're hourly wage is a lot more than $8/hr, but if those two hours of sitting in traffic jams every day are worth at least $8 each to them, then a $16 fee that keeps the roads clear of congestion would be a godsend.

      it's okay that you didn't know. some people just suck at stuff.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Sounds like the Brits are up to their old tricks again.

      Taxation without Representation!

      Are we gonna have to kick their butts again to prove our point?

      I kid :)
      • 8 Years Ago
      Parts of the UK government are strongly against private transportation. They want everyone to be equally uncomfortable on some form of public transport.
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