LONDON MAYOR Ken Livingstone is set for a battle with the Government to ensure that the Greater London Authority can keep the proceeds from congestion charging for longer than the statutory 10 years.
Under current legislation, revenue from congestion charges - expected in London by 2003 - can be ring fenced for transport projects for 10 years. After that the money will go into the Treasury's coffers.
GLA Transport strategy manager Keith Gardner told a meeting of the Transport Planning Society last week that extending hypothecation for an unlimited period had become one of the Mayor's 'top priorities'.
The GLA initiative is strongly supported by London First which represents London businesses. Head of transport policy Irving Yass said: 'We said when the GLA bill was going through that the money may be needed for more than 10 years to fund long term PFI projects.
'It's quite easy to foresee over 20 years' worth of hard investment in London's transport system. The Mayor might extend the PPP contracts to increase capacity and upgrade stations or set up a long term PFI deal for doing Crossrail (the Paddington to Liverpool Street rail link).'
The Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions said there was nothing to prevent the 10 year rule being extended if the Mayor could produce a plan of exactly how the money would be spent.
'The Secretary of State will look at such cases on their merits and extensions will be at his discretion, ' said a DETR spokesman.
The GLA's discussion paper on congestion charging Hearing London's Views is available from the Greater London Authority (Congestion Charging), Romney House, Marsham Street, London SW1P 3PY.