Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Improving Flow - Part Two

It is not easy finding a plumber in central London. According to The Times: If you live in Kensington and Chelsea and need a tap fixing in one of your palatial bathrooms, you may have a problem: for every 6,137 residents of the royal borough, there is one plumber, and nowhere in Britain are they rarer.

Kevin Wellman, operations director at the Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, suggests reasons for this: "The congestion charge is another factor putting plumbers off, and the heavy traffic generally makes it difficult to get around from one job to another. Plumbers have just said, 'We don't want to work in London any more'."

Sorry, Wellman is talking nonsense. The congestion charge is another factor that reduces traffic. And plumbers here charge up to a hundred pounds for each single callout, and will probably do many of these every day. So I guess they can afford it.

For all of Ken Livingstone's misuse of vegetables, he can be proud that he pioneered groundbreaking economic strategy in the face of massive almost universal opposition. Now even the gas guzzling Americans recognise that some form of congestion/pollution charging is inevitable, whether that is in the form of higher gas taxes or road use pricing. However, with his proposed push westwards from the commercial city to the more residential west end, he just pushed a good idea a step too far too soon.

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