LABOUR'S OFFICIAL candidate for London Mayor Frank Dobson was this week criticised by a leading transport academic for his 'foolish' pledge not to introduce congestion charging in his first term of office.
Speaking at the ICE last week, Professor of Transport Policy at University College London Phil Goodwin said charging revenue would be 'vital' to the mayor and insisted there was nothing to stop a scheme being put in place before the end of the first five-year term.
Goodwin - who acted as an adviser on the Government's transport White Paper - said: 'It would be incredibly foolish not to use these new powers.
Public opinion, including business opinion, is much more ready for it in London than anywhere else.
'The groundwork has been prepared, ' he said. 'Yet Frank Dobson pulls the 'not till the technology is ready' argument, which I find misjudged. Adequate technology is already available - perfect technology never will be.'
Goodwin told the audience at the lecture - 'The Transport Bill, advance or retreat?' - 'I made a prediction last year that by the time of the London election, every candidate for Mayor would be in favour of using these powers. I'll stick to my prediction - slightly reworded. We are going to have a Mayor who is publicly committed to road user charging.'
But Dobson this week reiterated his pledge on congestion charging: 'I support congestion charging in principle but let's start off the 21st century with an electronic scheme. Transport experts say that a proper electronic scheme could barely be introduced before the end of a Mayor's first term. I say get the improvements in first.'