London Congestion Charg and ULEZ road sign

Coronavirus: London Congestion Charge and ULEZ are FREE; parking rules RELAXED

London Congestion Charg and ULEZ road sign

The London Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) charge have both been suspended during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Parking restrictions and charges have also been relaxed for key workers. 

The moves are to help heed London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s call to avoid public transport where possible. 

From Monday 23 March, all road user charging schemes are suspended, says Transport for London (TfL).

This also includes the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for HGVs, lorries, vans, buses and coaches. 

The move is “to help critical workers” after London Underground services were severely cut back this week. 

Temporarily suspending the London LEZ “supports the supply chain, the effort to keep supermarkets fully stocked and the city’s continued operation”. 

London Congestion Charging Central Zone road sign

But it is not a green light for all motorists to drive into London, adds TfL. Following government advice, motorists should ‘consider the wider implications when thinking about using their vehicles.

‘Roads must be kept clear for emergency services and critical workers. 

‘Only travel if your journey is necessary.’ 

Parking restrictions ‘relaxed’

TfL is, however, not responsible for car parking charges in London. They are controlled by London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London.

London Councils represents them all and has now called for a ‘common-sense approach to issuing parking and driving fines in order to help critical workers’.

Guidance has been issued to London borough on a ‘pragmatic approach to enforcement of parking and driving offences during the coronavirus pandemic’.

Safety and traffic flow will still be important, but the guidance includes advice such as:

  • Relaxing parking restrictions for vital members of staff around hospitals, clinics and emergency services control centres – e.g. no time limit and no charge
  • Giving parking permits to key workers allowing them to park more flexibly if there are no parking spaces available
  • Taking into account when drivers demonstrate they are key workers – e.g. when deciding whether to issue a penalty charge notice or when a driver is appealing a penalty
  • Making additional parking spaces available to key workers – e.g. business parking

Cllr Julian Bell from London Councils said: “All key workers using cars or other vehicles to get around can be reassured that borough parking teams are on their side.

“We ask that they look to their local council to find out what this means for them.

“London boroughs are united in taking a pragmatic approach to parking enforcement in these challenging times to help our critical workers do their jobs”

All London boroughs are now putting the guidance into practice locally and on a temporary basis.

Only essential journeys

London Congestion Charging road sign

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “People should not be travelling, by any means, unless they really have to.

“London’s roads should now only be used for essential journeys.

“To help our critical workers get to work and for essential deliveries to take place, I have instructed TfL to temporarily suspend the Congestion Charge, ULEZ and Low Emission Zone from Monday.”

Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Keeping our supply chains resilient will be key in ensuring businesses can continue to function during the crisis.

“It’s the right thing that firms have the confidence to call in other contractors to move their goods into the capital at short notice and not worry about LEZ and ULEZ charges.”

Calling for the suspension earlier this week, Conservative London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey claimed the suspension would cost around £21m a month in revenue for TfL. 

He told Talk Radio this was “peanuts” compared to the overall impact of COVID-19 on the NHS.