Safer Travel at Night (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
February 23, 2005
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


The developments to date on this important subject are most welcome. Can I just say to the Chair, the ability to raise questions sent to us through our mailbag or to us directly is important because the touting for hire issue was raised by me with the Mayor. At that time, people were not aware that touting was not a recordable offence. I think that sometimes we have to pull back and hold on to those successes that we are achieving from bringing the concerns of Londoners here and obtaining a response from the Mayor.

I will ask my question about the Congestion Charge and I will link it. Will the Mayor take on that there is an inability of people within the Congestion Charge area to pay their charge because many of the Congestion Charge payment points are closed during rush hour? Will he take that up, because for many of my constituency who are just about able to afford the £5, it seems wrong that they cannot then pay that Charge and consequently find themselves in a position where they could then be fined?

Moving on, I have two questions about the Safer Travel at Night. You quoted some very good figures. However, let us not forget that 11 women per month are still being raped and sexually assaulted in illegal minicabs in the capital. Will you give us your assurance that you will instruct TfL that they must meet the April 2005 target for vehicles, and that they will put in the resources to ensure that the target for April 2006 is met? This would mean that all 40,000 drivers registered with the Public Carriage Office are fully licensed, because many of them are currently partially licensed. The other important thing that we must see happen is that each vehicle will be issued with and required to display the licensed private vehicle tax disc-style notice on the front and rear of their vehicle so that women out at night and anyone around can see that this is a licensed vehicle. Will you instruct TfL to ensure that these key targets are met by the date guaranteed?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Safer Travel at Night (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Safer Travel at Night (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Can I give my assurance that we will reach the April target this year on the quality of the vehicles and the April target next year on the drivers. Once we have finished the licensing of the existing pool of private hire vehicles in April, we will be launching a campaign to raise public awareness of the private hire vehicle licence disk and this will be a further step forward in providing that assurance.

The position on the Congestion Charge is that I share your concern that many of the retail outlets are closed at the time that people most need them. I still wish we could reach the point I had as my original goal where every petrol station inside the M25 would accept payment of the Congestion Charge. That would be the easiest thing for everybody. I think it is deplorable that these great international oil companies are so unconcerned about the convenience of their customers they are not prepared to do that in most cases. We will look at this and continue to pursue it. We are working to a timetable that I have set TfL that by the time we get to the introduction of the extension to the western zone, if that goes ahead after the consultation, I want to see if we can negotiate with Capita the introduction of Direct Debit so you would never be in the position Peter (Hulme Cross) was in and referred to earlier. Anyone who has a car will just register their details and their credit card number and automatically have it debited once they drive in.

The business community are in discussions with TfL about the mechanics of that. There are real problems with that: you could find people assuming their account was in balance and having it bounced back because it was not. We want to avoid people relying on their credit card account being in balance and then finding they have a £50 fine on top of the penalty charge you usually receive from the credit card company of your bank if you go over your limit.