Congestion charge proposed for Cardiff’s city centre

Could the formidable big red C soon be marking Cardiff's city centre? Photo credit: mariordo59 via google

By Anya Phillips

A walking charity has called for a congestion charge, along with a speed limit of 20mph, to be implemented in Cardiff city centre in order to help eliminate traffic, and combat pollution.

‘Living Streets’, a charity that promotes the action of ‘everyday walking’ to help try and moderate traffic-prone roads and pollution, have suggested that a road-charging system should be employed in busy and areas in Cardiff city centre.

This would mean that drivers would be charged for entering certain parts of the city within particular time zones.

The only other place this kind of system currently operates in within the UK is London, with motorists expected to pay a daily charge of £11.50 for entering the congestion zone between 7am and 6pm.

This marks a dramatic increase from the initial daily rate of just £5, introduced by the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingston in 2003.

This is not, however, the first time that such a charge has been suggested for Cardiff’s city centre, with similar proposals being put forward by the then deputy council leader Ralph Cook in 2012. These proposals did, however, limit the charge to apply only to motorists coming from outside of the Welsh Capital.

Proposals were met with opposition from both members of the council and from citizens, who were sceptical about the necessity of a congestion charges in a medium-sized city, arguing that it would limit people’s travel flexibility.

These concerns have since been dismissed by other Labour members of the council, and proposals have since recently resurfaced as a means of controlling traffic in the city centre.

In addition to the congestion charge, the charity has also suggested that a 20mph limit should be instigated across the city, similar to that currently being trialled by the city council in areas such as Roath, Cathays and Riverside.

Thus far, ‘Living Streets’ have expressed their disappointment with such trials, claiming a speed limit needs to be enrolled throughout the city centre.

The charity has also highlighted that both the proposed congestion charge and speed limit are just one of a number of ideas and pledges they have cultivated in attempt to encourage walking in Cardiff’s city centre.

Other proposed initiatives include the creation of walking friendly centres throughout the city, while also introducing programmes that reward those walk or cycle to their workplace.

‘Living Streets’ hope that the introduction and execution of these systems and charges will reduce air pollution, car dependency and traffic, whilst also raising money for walking and public transport campaigns and schemes.

The charity have also asked that all political parties prioritise walking initiatives in their manifestos, and are set to meet with politicians in the hope that they will sign their pledges in time for May’s election.

Nerys Lloyd-Pierce, chair of Cardiff’s Civic Society, agrees that citizens need to reduce their reliance on cars, fearing that “the city’s population is set to grow, but our roads are already at capacity”.

However, she also emphasised that the proposed congestion charge is “controversial”, and worries that it could result in the less well-off being penalized.

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