10 years of congestion charge

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the London congestion charge, which was introduced on February 17th 2003.

10 years of the C-charge, but what's it really changed?

Ten years ago today London became the first city in Britain to introduce a congestion charge.

It was supposed to cure the capital's traffic problems but there were predictions it would kill off business as people stayed away.

So after a decade in action what has the charge really changed?

Our Political Correspondent Simon Harris takes a look at its impact.

What next for the Congestion Charge?

There are new plans for the Congestion Charge in the pipe-line. The proposed changes include the introduction of a new Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED), an increase in the penalty charge and the removal of the under-used retail (shop) payment channel.

A car entering the Congestion Charge Zone
A car entering the Congestion Charge Zone Credit: PA

The introduction of the proposed Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) would take place in July 2013 and provide a single 100 per cent discount from the Congestion Charge for electric and ultra low emission cars and vans

To qualify for the discount vehicles will have to be either pure electric or be cars and vans that emit 75g/km or less of CO2 and meet the Euro 5 emission standard for air quality.

All plans are subject to consultation.

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London Congestion Charge fact 3

Cars delivering guests to the Le Meridien Grosvenor House Hotel (where suites cost up to £1,187 per night) and the Dorchester Hotel will be able to use the hotels' main entrances on Park Lane for nothing. Delivery vehicles using the loading bays round the back will have to pay the £5 charge.

London Congestion Charge fact 2

While the system cost around £160m to set up in2002, it generates significant revenue every year, which is invested inimproving the transport network. In 2011/12 Congestion Charging raised around£137 million to be spent on other transport initiatives within London.

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A third of foreign embassies refuse to recognise the Congestion Charge

Three thousand motorists a day fail to pay theLondon congestion charge - generating an estimated £1m a week in fines.Offenders are automatically sent a Penalty Charge Notice demanding. £120, witha 50% discount for prompt payment.

A sign warning drivers that they are entering a Congestion Charge zone
A sign warning drivers that they are entering a Congestion Charge zone

Foreign diplomats are among the worst serialoffenders. Around a third of embassies in London refuse to recognise thecharge.

Since the introduction of the C-Charge in February 2003, an estimated £67m in unpaid charges is owed by foreign governments. America is the biggest offender.