River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Is Managing Power Beyond Our Ken?

November 2002

Ken Livingstone's congestion charge is driving London mad

I've always had a soft spot for Ken Livingstone, the first mayor of London. In the past he has shaken the labour hierarchy on many occasions, been a genial host on radio and television programmes and has tried to set an example by travelling around London mainly by public transport. However, now he has the mayoral power, it has gone to his head.

Everyone agrees that something has to be done to improve the flow of London's traffic. Ken's idea is to introduce tolls set at a certain distance from the centre of the city. The fee to enter the inner zone would be £5. I personally do not think that it is feasible but his way to get his point across was quite disgraceful.

In August, sources close to ken's office leaked the fact that he had authorised traffic lights in the central area to be phased differently. What this basically meant was that they stayed on red longer causing greater congestion. This was to further his point that something radical had to be done and, may be, his tolls plan was the answer. It wasn't long before taxi drivers, who were very hard hit, carried stickers in their cabs - "Red ken equals red lights".

Now this is where the power turned our ken's head again. He immediately ordered that any cabbie who did not remove his sticker within two days would have his licence revoked. This was totally undemocratic because unless you display something that is indecent or likely to incite violence, you can display what you like. Needless to say, he had to back down. Where his plans have gone now I do not know but with the power having corrupted his brain, he will probably come up with something else that will be confrontational. Your fan base has dropped alarmingly, Ken!

Graham Forster

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