A KEY local authority has turned against plans to charge drivers £5 to enter central London, NCE has learned.
It has also criticised London's transport department Transport for London (TfL) for failing to carry out adequate highway planning and analysis of the effects of the scheme.
The Corporation of London, representing the powerful City of London, has decided to oppose the scheme proposed by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and expected to be confirmed in December.
This is likely to increase pressure on London mayor Ken Livingstone to call a public inquiry into congestion charging in London or face a judicial review (NCE 28 June).
In a letter to Livingstone seen by NCE the Corporation cites the poor standard of TfL's preparation work as one reason for its rejection of the scheme.
'Such submissions would not be accepted from private sector developers who put forward proposals affecting the City's streets, ' said the letter which was sent last month.
TfL said it was confident that it had carried out enough studies into the effects of the scheme and claimed the support of 20 other London boroughs that were working closely with TfL to prepare for its implementation.
The corporation had previously supported congestion charging in principle, but had stressed that this would depend on its concerns over Tower Bridge being met. The bridge is just outside the eastern edge of the congestion charging zone and there are fears that motorists will divert over it to avoid paying charges.
In its letter, the Corporation sets out its opposition to the scheme for the first time.
'We now feel that we must formally object to the scheme order, ' said Corporation planning director Joe Weiss. 'Now let's see what happens in the democratic process.'
Failure to agree ways to protect Tower Bridge from traffic diverting from the eastern boundary of the charging zone tops the Corporation's list of complaints.
It claimed that the bridge could be structurally damaged as it just outside the perimeter of the congestion charging zone.
Weiss said the Corporation was still unconvinced that TfL's plans for better enforcement of the 17t weight limit on the bridge would prevent extra vehicles breaking weight restrictions.