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US, German embassies in congestion charge row with Red Ken

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emad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 09:25 AM
Original message
US, German embassies in congestion charge row with Red Ken
A proposed congestion charge for motorists to drive their cars into the centre of London has sparked a diplomatic row with the United States.

US embassy staff believe they should be exempt because the charge amounts to a tax.

The 5 charge is due to be implemented in February and will cover all but some professions, such as emergency services.

It is the idea of London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, and his office insists embassy staff will have to pay because it is a charge, like a parking ticket, not a tax.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2260203.stm
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emad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 10:16 AM
Response to Original message
1. Independent: Americans' just be waking up to Livingstone reality'
SNIP:

Both embassies are likely to figure prominently on the Foreign Office's next "list of shame" of parking fines and other infringements by diplomats - to be published later this year.
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A spokesman for the US embassy said its diplomats always paid parking charges and fines but it had received advice from the State Department in July that the charge was a tax and, under the 1961 Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, was not enforceable on diplomats. "We consider it a tax and it is the view of the US government that all direct taxes on diplomats, including this one, are prohibited by the Vienna convention."

A German embassy spokesman said: "We received a memo from Berlin several months ago which explained the congestion charge is considered to be a tax and therefore diplomats are exempt."
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A refusal by the United States and German embassies to pay the capital's congestion charge has led to a diplomatic row with the Government and London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone.
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A spokesman for the US embassy said its diplomats always paid parking charges and fines but it had received advice from the State Department in July that the charge was a tax and, under the 1961 Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, was not enforceable on diplomats. "We consider it a tax and it is the view of the US government that all direct taxes on diplomats, including this one, are prohibited by the Vienna convention."


"Most of us have been making this point for some time. The Americans may only just be waking up to the reality of having Ken Livingstone for Mayor."
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article320568...
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 11:27 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Well, boo hoo!
I salute Ken Livingstone for placing a congestion charge on central London. There ARE transportation alternatives there, but I suppose the American embassy is so high and mighty that its employees, right down to the file clerks, think they have to drive everywhere.

The mayor of Tokyo has his bad points, but when a group of Japanese car potatoes complained about all the traffic in central Tokyo, he asked them what they thought the 14 subway lines were for.
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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-20-05 03:44 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. Lovely!
> The mayor of Tokyo has his bad points, but when a group of Japanese
> car potatoes complained about all the traffic in central Tokyo, he
> asked them what they thought the 14 subway lines were for.

What a superb response!
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moggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-20-05 08:13 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. They could continue to drive
There's a 100% exemption for electric vehicles and various alternative fuel vehicles, such as LPG and dual-fuel. Yeah, I know, hell would freeze over first.
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Kellanved Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 11:26 AM
Response to Original message
2. Heh :D
Just a question: does the charge apply to governmental cars (like Tony's) as well?


It is quite funny though: the British embassy in Berlin is among the prime reasons for congestion.
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moggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-20-05 03:27 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. According to the Independent article
The spokesman added: "The congestion charging scheme gives no privileges to any VIPs, including the Mayor, MPs, Assembly members or councillors, therefore, we believe diplomats should pay."


Tax, my arse! It's a charge for using a resource. If you travel by tube, you're charged for that too: is that a tax?

If these embassies don't want to pay the charge, they should move out of London.

There's a bit of a slant to that Independent article. It says the congestion charge "has been criticised by many businesses and residents". That's true, but it has also been welcomed by many residents, me included. Let's not forget that it was the most well-known measure Ken introduced as mayor, and he was re-elected afterwards!
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mr blur Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-20-05 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. Do you remember,
back in the good old days of Ken at the GLC when they brought in the one-price traval anywhere tube ticket. Magic. Of course The Evil Hag Thatch abolished the GLC as soon as possible.
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moggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-05 02:36 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Fares Fair
I remember "Fares Fair", and it was working, until Bromley scuppered it. You can read about it here:

http://www.bilderberg.org/farefare.htm

As for the abolition of the GLC, it still boggles the mind that Thatcher could get away with that. I still have my "GLC: We'll Meet Again" badge from their farewell bash, though it's doubtful whether that will ever come true.
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emad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-20-05 10:15 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. Poodle and gang all exempt.
Even Poodle's wife's hairdresser and holistic colonic irrigation therapist...etc.
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supernova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-05 06:31 AM
Response to Original message
10. I don't know why
anyone would have a problem with the congestion fee.

Makes sense to me. :shrug: And ya'll have public tansport worth using. Here, not so much. NY and DC are about the only places I'd consider using it.
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