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Every Londoner now owed £5 by embassies evading the Congestion Charge

Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly transport spokesperson, has revealed that each and every Londoner is now owed £5 by embassies that evade paying the Congestion Charge. For the first time ever the total unpaid bill for non-payment of Congestion Charge and Penalty Charge Notices now exceeds £40 million.

Through repeated questioning, Caroline Pidgeon has obtained figures from the Mayor showing that the amount owed by embassies soared during 2009 by more than 40%, with the unpaid bill rising by £1 million every month. At the very start of the 2010 the total unpaid bill from embassies stood at £39 million, compared to an unpaid bill of £26 million at the same time last year.

Commenting on these new figures, Caroline Pidgeon said:
"It is shameful that a minority of embassies continue to evade paying the Congestion Charge. British diplomats respect the law of other countries and it is only right that diplomats do the same in this country.

Waterloo International platforms – a wasted resource

As part of the London Liberal Democrats' Campaign For Better Stations, Caroline Pidgeon joined south-west London MPs Ed Davey, Tom Brake and Susan Kramer on a visit to Waterloo station.

The Waterloo International platforms, which Eurostar trains used until their move to St Pancras in 2007, are still completely unused - in such a congested station as Waterloo, this is a wasted resource which should be put to use to improve services for commuters from south-west London.

Across London, the Lib Dems have a 5-point plan for better rail stations:

Video: ensuring the Tube works for everyone in London

In this video, Caroline Pidgeon explains the London Assembly Transport Committee's work to ensure passengers will get the best possible service from new investment in the tube.

Time to get moving on Oxford Street congestion

Pedestrians on Oxford street are reduced to shuffling along overcrowded pavements, while hundreds of buses an hour inch forward at an average of 4mph, according to a new report from the London Assembly Transport Committee.

The report, ‘Streets ahead: Relieving congestion on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street’, notes that despite its phenomenal popularity with shoppers, the area continues to be divided by a "slow-moving procession of buses and taxis". On average the area suffers an accident involving a bus every 3.4 days - and air quality in the area, already the worst in London, is on track to be the worst in the UK by 2015

At the heart of the problem is the conflict between the need to provide a pleasant shopping and leisure environment, and meeting the demand for transport links through the West End. And various schemes to reduce traffic congestion and improve the pedestrian experience in one of the world’s premier shopping destinations may not be enough, says the report, calling for more radical thinking.

Looking forward to the new East London Line

On Thursday 28th January Caroline went on a visit to look at the new East London Line Extension works and to view the extension of the Docklands Light Railway.

Caroline visited New Cross Gate Depot and saw the new trains for the line, as well as looking at the new station and works at Shoreditch.

The DLR visit included a trip out to Stratford and down to Woolwich via City Airport.

“The extension of the DLR and the works on the new East London Line were very impressive and it is great to see so much investment going into public transport. I can’t wait for the East London Line to reopen” said Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon.

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