Frank Dobson's refusal to do anything about congestion charging until 2004 at the earliest (NCE 16 March) is the biggest single reason why Ken Livingstone is a more natural choice for Mayor of London.
It is crass stupidity to choose the do-nothing option in the hope that a better alternative might one day be technically achievable. Such is akin to refusing to develop radio pending the invention of television. Who can guarantee that electronic charging will be up and running by 2004 or, indeed, whether it really would be more cost effective than the 'imperfect' low-cost permit option?
Stephen Glaister's pragmatic and 'low-tech' permit approach is infinitely more sensible if the Greater London Authority is to have any chance of raising revenue quickly for much needed bus improvements. Enforcement of a permit scheme need not rely on an 'army of wardens' flagging down moving traffic. It could be enforced effectively if councils' powers under the Road Traffic Act 1991 were extended to give parking attendants the right to enter private land to inspect vehicles' credentials.Powers to inspect on-street and in public car parks already exist.
Dobson's reluctance to choose the right option has less to do with technical considerations than it does with the political need to avoid upsetting middle England before the next election.
Brian Hanson (M), 1 Searles View, Horsham