andz
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US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 5:41 am

American diplomats top the list of congestion charge dodgers in London, running up over 200,000 Pounds of charges in just six months, which the US Embassy says they will not pay, claiming diplomatic privilege. Mayor Ken Livingstone says they should pay, as British diplomats have to pay toll fees in the US.

[Edited 2006-05-01 22:42:12]
After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
 
JGPH1A
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 5:44 am

I hope Red Ken clamps the ambassadorial Lincoln and throws the key in the Thames ! Diplomatic privilege is just that, a privilege, and should not be abused.
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AeroWesty
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 5:46 am

Ask NYC how many unpaid "diplomatic" parking tickets they have.
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MKEdude
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 5:47 am

What are "congestion charges"?
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petertenthije
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 5:49 am

Quoting MKEdude (Reply 3):
What are "congestion charges"?

For the central area of London a toll is required. This is the congestion charge.
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A319XFW
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 5:50 am

Yes, this was in the news a while ago - it's not only the US embassy refusing to pay.

They state it is a tax, whereas London says it is a toll.
I suppose they are right about the tolls in the US, as British diplomats have to pay bridge tolls etc.
 
satx
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 6:01 am

Why hasn't Bush simply grabbed Blair by the ear and told him to change the rules so American diplomats to do as they please without having to explain themselves? Or is Blair unable to do such a thing?
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dtwclipper
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 6:08 am

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 2):
Ask NYC how many unpaid "diplomatic" parking tickets they have.

Those you refer to are UN officials in New York, they are the biggest culprits, they also have a way of getting around paying sales taxes on big ticket items.
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A319XFW
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 6:09 am

Quoting SATX (Reply 6):
Why hasn't Bush simply grabbed Blair by the ear and told him to change the rules so American diplomats to do as they please without having to explain themselves? Or is Blair unable to do such a thing?

Probably because the London congestion charge is run my the Major of London and not Tony Blair?

[Edited 2006-05-01 23:15:14]
 
RichardPrice
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 6:12 am

Diplomats are required to pay for the London Underground, the London busses, London taxis. They should pay the congestion charge. Its not a tax, its a service toll.
 
satx
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 6:13 am

Quoting A319XFW (Reply 8):
Probably because the London congestion charge is run my the Major of London and not Tony?

So what's the endgame then? I guess they just never pay up.

I never really agreed with the way diplomantic immunity is handled myself. You shouldn't be able to hit somebody while driving drunk and then tell the police who arrive to take you home and leave you alone. It's turned into little more than a perversion of justice at this point.
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deltagator
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 7:15 am

Quoting SATX (Reply 10):
I never really agreed with the way diplomantic immunity is handled myself. You shouldn't be able to hit somebody while driving drunk and then tell the police who arrive to take you home and leave you alone. It's turned into little more than a perversion of justice at this point.

Those are few and far between methinks. But some of the more recent cases have had the offender labeled Persona No Grata and shown the first flight out of JFK.

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 9):
Diplomats are required to pay for the London Underground, the London busses, London taxis. They should pay the congestion charge. Its not a tax, its a service toll.

Debatable. Taxis, busses, and the Tube are private or government industries there to make money. The Congestion Charge is a tax for those who feel the need to live in the city or insist upon driving into the city.
"If you can't delight in the misery of others then you don't deserve to be a college football fan."
 
scott0305
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 7:34 am

Quoting DeltaGator (Reply 11):
Debatable. Taxis, busses, and the Tube are private or government industries there to make money. The Congestion Charge is a tax for those who feel the need to live in the city or insist upon driving into the city.

Incorrect. The congestion charge is a service charge which is there to make money to be reinvested in transportation and to lighten the burden on one of the most heavily traffic congested areas on the planet.

Tha Yanks should pay up and stop being so arrogant. Diplomats may have certain privileges, but they are still guests in this country and should abide by its laws.
 
ltbewr
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 7:40 am

Perhaps Diplomatic registered vehicles should pay the charge for those whom live in that zone, which I believe it is 10% of the full charge. I would presume that many of the Diplomatic registered vehicles are domiciled within the zone. This is a tax, not like a toll on a highway or bridge/tunnel. I am quite sure that there is a good arguement that for reasons of security, they need to use their cars vs taking public transist.
 
L-188
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 10:09 am

Quoting Scott0305 (Reply 12):
The congestion charge is a service charge which is there to make money to be reinvested in transportation and to lighten the burden on one of the most heavily traffic congested areas on the planet.

Boy you sure made it sound like a tax there.

But there is a good point that the city of New York gripes to high hell about all the unpaid tickets left by those freeloaders at the UN. It does seem a bit hypocritical.
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N1120A
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 10:59 am

Quoting A319XFW (Reply 5):
I suppose they are right about the tolls in the US, as British diplomats have to pay bridge tolls etc.

Not if they don't want to. By not paying a toll, you are guilty of a crime (usually either a misdemenor or a traffic violation), which diplomats are exempt from.

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 9):
Diplomats are required to pay for the London Underground, the London busses, London taxis. They should pay the congestion charge. Its not a tax, its a service toll.

While it isn't a tax, diplomats still don't have to pay it. Even if they can be charged a fine for not paying, the diplomat can just give their diplomatic credentials and not be held responsible

Quoting DeltaGator (Reply 11):
The Congestion Charge is a tax for those who feel the need to live in the city or insist upon driving into the city.

People who live within the congestion charging zone get a 90% discount, and it doesn't cover the whole city (though it does cover the City, but that is a different thing). It is a toll, just like choosing to use a toll bridge, a turnpike or a toll tunnel is.
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deltagator
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 11:21 am

Quoting N1120A (Reply 15):
People who live within the congestion charging zone get a 90% discount

I didn't know that.

Quoting N1120A (Reply 15):
and it doesn't cover the whole city (though it does cover the City, but that is a different thing).

I know the difference but you might have to explain it for some folks on here. It is supposed to be expanded out even further IIRC if it hasn't happened already.

Quoting N1120A (Reply 15):
It is a toll, just like choosing to use a toll bridge, a turnpike or a toll tunnel is.

I would think the folks living in or working in the zone before it was implemented would beg to differ.
"If you can't delight in the misery of others then you don't deserve to be a college football fan."
 
ANCFlyer
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 12:38 pm

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 2):
Ask NYC how many unpaid "diplomatic" parking tickets they have.

Exactly . . .

When the US Diplomats exceed the $$$millions$$$ in various and sundry charges, fines, etc that all the idiots in this country running around with diplomatic plates produce, then come see me about some congestion in London.

Quoting SATX (Reply 10):
You shouldn't be able to hit somebody while driving drunk and then tell the police who arrive to take you home and leave you alone. It's turned into little more than a perversion of justice at this point.

We agree . . . what is this - like twice???!!!  faint 

Recall in the late 1990s in DC some diplomat (country of origin forgotten) driving drunk in downtown DC (I was living there then) crashes over - literally over - a car full of teenaged girls . . . killing them all. This was his 4th or 5th DUI in DC. It was up in the air for weeks whether the bastard would be "allowed to be charged and tried" and not just shipped home. IMO - inexcuseable. His country eventually left it in DC Metro's hands . . . hopefully the bastard is still in kail somewhere.
FOR THOSE THAT FOUGHT FOR IT, FREEDOM HAS A FLAVOR THE PROTECTED WILL NEVER KNOW OR UNDERSTAND
 
andz
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 2:39 pm

How much is the charge anyway? How big is the US diplomatic corps in London that they can run up 200k in 6 months?
After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
 
N1120A
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 3:17 pm

Quoting DeltaGator (Reply 11):
Debatable. Taxis, busses, and the Tube are private or government industries there to make money

Actually, only taxis are in reality. While busses are run by the PPP, they serve as public transport and the government is not supposed to make money off of it. Whatever is made is supposed to be plowed back into the infrastructure (though the fact that they subsidize the profits of companies like First and Arriva kills that). The Tube is owned and operated by TfL, which means it is totally public and is not there to make money (though its MX is contracted out to Tube Lines and Metronet)

Quoting DeltaGator (Reply 16):
It is supposed to be expanded out even further IIRC if it hasn't happened already.

The expansion to Kensington and Chelsea has been approved and will go into effect next year

Quoting DeltaGator (Reply 16):
I would think the folks living in or working in the zone before it was implemented would beg to differ.

And there were truckers who drove the Autobahn before they were charged tolls (no tolls for PAX cars). It is still a toll, because it is based on optional usage when there are viable alternates

Quoting Andz (Reply 18):
How much is the charge anyway? How big is the US diplomatic corps in London that they can run up 200k in 6 months?

It has been 8 pounds per day since July 4th of last year. It was 5 pounds per day previously
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
halls120
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 8:51 pm

Quoting Scott0305 (Reply 12):
The congestion charge is a service charge which is there to make money to be reinvested in transportation and to lighten the burden on one of the most heavily traffic congested areas on the planet.

Sounds like a tax to me. But then again, so are tolls - they are a tax for using the particular bridge or road they are levied for. You can dress it up all you want, but if the government is collecting a "service charge," it is a tax.

If I was a British diplomat, I'd just stop paying tolls in the US. Same rationale.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
Banco
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 10:12 pm

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 20):
If I was a British diplomat, I'd just stop paying tolls in the US. Same rationale.

It is, but as a courtesy to the host country, governments should pay up. They dont have to, but they should. This is especially true of friendly countries; they pay each other's charges, and they waive diplomatic immunity if one of their diplomats breaks the law.

The US might well have a case technically for saying this is a tax, but that's really beside the point. Refusing to pay hardly endears them to the British - Londoners especially, amongst whom they live and work, and for such a measly amount of money, that's a stupid thing to do, particularly when their British counterparts do pay.

British diplomats could turn around and refuse to pay US tolls, but I'd rather they didn't. That's just a really good way to piss off the local population for absolutely no good reason.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
AeroWesty
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 10:21 pm

I wonder how much in petrol taxes the US diplomatic mission to the UK is paying. At $6 or $7 per gallon, it must be quite a tab.
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N1120A
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 11:09 pm

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 22):
I wonder how much in petrol taxes the US diplomatic mission to the UK is paying. At $6 or $7 per gallon, it must be quite a tab.

Well, if they don't pay up, the gas station won't let them fill up. Then again, if they are at a station that still is pay after pumping, they can just cut and run.
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
RichardPrice
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Tue May 02, 2006 11:23 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 23):
Well, if they don't pay up, the gas station won't let them fill up. Then again, if they are at a station that still is pay after pumping, they can just cut and run.

Pretty much every petrol station in the UK is pay after pumping, and they are covered by CCTV.

A diplomat routinely driving off without paying will quickly find his movements restricted or his permission to be in the country withdrawn.
 
halls120
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 12:40 am

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 22):
I wonder how much in petrol taxes the US diplomatic mission to the UK is paying. At $6 or $7 per gallon, it must be quite a tab.

they don't pay the tax, technically. They pay it up front, but get a rebate later on.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
AeroWesty
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 12:45 am

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 25):
They pay it up front, but get a rebate later on.

Hmm, that's very interesting. I wonder why a congestion charge wouldn't come under the same sort of deal. After all, a bridge toll is merely to help with the cost of maintenance, etc., where a congestion charge is a punitive fee or tax designed to keep people from driving.
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halls120
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 12:46 am

Quoting Banco (Reply 21):
The US might well have a case technically for saying this is a tax, but that's really beside the point. Refusing to pay hardly endears them to the British - Londoners especially, amongst whom they live and work, and for such a measly amount of money, that's a stupid thing to do, particularly when their British counterparts do pay.

British diplomats could turn around and refuse to pay US tolls, but I'd rather they didn't. That's just a really good way to piss off the local population for absolutely no good reason.

While it may not endear our diplomats to not pay the congestion charge, it is a tax, and governments generally don't require other governments to pay taxes on property relating to diplomatic missions. I'm assuming the vehicles in question are diplomatic vehicles, so they ought to be exempt from taxes or any other form of use charges. It's a simple act of comity.

Counties in Virginia levy a personal property tax on all privately owned vehicles, and I'll bet cars with diplomatic plates are exempt.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
Banco
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 1:21 am

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 27):
While it may not endear our diplomats to not pay the congestion charge, it is a tax, and governments generally don't require other governments to pay taxes on property relating to diplomatic missions. I'm assuming the vehicles in question are diplomatic vehicles, so they ought to be exempt from taxes or any other form of use charges. It's a simple act of comity.

Yes, except that as has been pointed out, British diplomats in the US do pay local toll charges, which is also a form of tax. It's the same as with diplomatic immunity - any nation can tell the host country to get stuffed when it comes to things like parking fines, but they don't - and when they do there's outrage. And it's a deliberate policy too. British diplomats pay for these things because it is felt they ought to. And the reason for that? Diplomatic privilege (note the origin of that word, by the way, it's highly appropriate) is there to emphasise the sovereign status of embassy and personnel. British consular and embassy staff pay the local "taxes" in the US because they believe that they shouldn't be set apart from, and above those amongst whom they live.

So, fine. We can have a nice stand-off whereby British officials tell the US government to sod off and whistle for any local taxes and charges, and we can all glare at each other across the Atlantic.

Or: the US government can stop being so bloody childish and get on and pay it, as the same kind of goodwill gesture that the British perform in the US. And incidentally, I can imagine the howls of protest from across the Pond if this situation were reversed.

For the sake of £200,000, the US government are going to re-inforce all the negative attitudes about arrogance so many people hold.

It's not a question of what is technically right or technically wrong. It's a question of how for a piddling amount of money, they're going to irritate a significant chunk of the population of their supposed closest ally. Most people tend not to be greatly interested in the nuances and ins and outs of International Relations. They do get interested when they think, rightly or wrongly, that another country is pulling a fast one at their expense.

Now. An important point: I suspect that what the US government is concerned about is the precedent that might be set. That's understandable, but so easy to get round. All you have is a reciprocal arrangement with the British government. It happens all the time and could be done in minutes.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
AeroWesty
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 1:40 am

Quoting Banco (Reply 28):
Or: the US government can stop being so bloody childish and get on and pay it

Ooooh, now you've done it, you'll cause another stir in Scotland!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skye_Bridge
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halls120
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 4:47 am

Quoting Banco (Reply 28):
Now. An important point: I suspect that what the US government is concerned about is the precedent that might be set. That's understandable, but so easy to get round. All you have is a reciprocal arrangement with the British government. It happens all the time and could be done in minutes.

I agree - this is probably more about the precedent than the amount of money. That the parties involved haven't reached such an agreement suggests that either the UK government isn't putting pressure on the US to pay up or that the UK isn't willing to provide the assurances we need.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
MDorBust
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 5:04 am

Quoting Banco (Reply 28):
For the sake of £200,000, the US government are going to re-inforce all the negative attitudes about arrogance so many people hold.

Wait a second... The US doesn't pay and it's American arrogance. The rest of the world abuses NYC and DC and it's part of the diplomatic process?

I've got an idea. NYC should impose a six million dollar per year fee on vehicles transiting the block around the UN building to errr... help with congestion. See... It's a user fee... not a tax...



BTW: I hear the Germans aren't paying London either... those damn arrogant Americans...

Another side note... since I'm not familiar with the layout of London. Would transit between the American embassy and any British government facilities they might need to visit take them into or through the *cough* "tolled" zone?
"I KICKED BURNING TERRORIST SO HARD IN BALLS THAT I TORE A TENDON" - Alex McIlveen
 
clipperhawaii
Posts: 1943
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 7:48 am

LOL

This is such an old story between diplomats and countries.

Let them sue us. And we will sue them.

In other words, let them/us concentrate on matters of state and not worry about parking tickets.

LOL

Quoting Banco (Reply 28):
It's a question of how for a piddling amount of money, they're going to irritate a significant chunk of the population of their supposed closest ally.

LOL "A significant chunk"??? Tell Mayor Ken he can file a claim with the Foreign Secretary. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Trust me. The British Government can't afford to anger/bother the U.S. over some piddling amount of money. Did you ever think about that way.  Yeah sure

Expunged anyone???  Silly

LOL Silly
"You Can't Beat The Experience"
 
halls120
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 8:09 am

Quoting MDorBust (Reply 31):
Wait a second... The US doesn't pay and it's American arrogance. The rest of the world abuses NYC and DC and it's part of the diplomatic process?

 rotfl  The rest of the world didn't invent the double standard, they just live by it.

Quoting MDorBust (Reply 31):
Another side note... since I'm not familiar with the layout of London. Would transit between the American embassy and any British government facilities they might need to visit take them into or through the *cough* "tolled" zone?

The US embassy is in the congestion zone, as are most of the UK government offices our diplomats routinely frequent.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
MDorBust
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 8:17 am

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 33):
The US embassy is in the congestion zone, as are most of the UK government offices our diplomats routinely frequent.

So there is no feasibly secure way for the US diplomats to conduct their diplomatic duties without haveing to pay a governmental charge?

Yeah, vienna convention wins hands down. The diplomats are completely correct to not pay this charge, unless they are provided with a secure alternative method of conducting their buisness that is not subjected to the charge.
"I KICKED BURNING TERRORIST SO HARD IN BALLS THAT I TORE A TENDON" - Alex McIlveen
 
N1120A
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 1:51 pm

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 33):
The US embassy is in the congestion zone, as are most of the UK government offices our diplomats routinely frequent.

Here is something interesting. I am betting that most US diplomats also live within the zone, so shouldn't they at least be subject to the 90% discount?
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
Banco
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 5:51 pm

Quoting MDorBust (Reply 31):
Wait a second... The US doesn't pay and it's American arrogance. The rest of the world abuses NYC and DC and it's part of the diplomatic process?

I didn't say it was American arrogance. I said that people will perceive it as American arrogance. Come on, you know how people react to these things.

Quoting Clipperhawaii (Reply 32):
Trust me. The British Government can't afford to anger/bother the U.S. over some piddling amount of money. Did you ever think about that way.

It's not down to the British government, it's a London issue. You seem to be missing my point entirely. For the matter of £200k, I couldn't give a stuff. I'm talking about how people react to it.

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 33):
The rest of the world didn't invent the double standard, they just live by it.

Of course. It was ever thus. Mind you, complaining about NYC (rightly) does smack of double standards itself when you have this in London. But of all the nations who take advantage in the US, you would surely agree that the UK isn't one of them.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
halls120
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 9:09 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 35):
Here is something interesting. I am betting that most US diplomats also live within the zone, so shouldn't they at least be subject to the 90% discount?

I don't have an exact tally, but of the embassy employees I know, none of them live within the congestion zone. Mayfair is rather pricey, you know.

Quoting Banco (Reply 36):
Quoting Halls120 (Reply 33):
The rest of the world didn't invent the double standard, they just live by it.

Of course. It was ever thus. Mind you, complaining about NYC (rightly) does smack of double standards itself when you have this in London. But of all the nations who take advantage in the US, you would surely agree that the UK isn't one of them.

I'm not singling out the UK in the least. UK diplomats are among the most agreeable people I deal with, and it's a shame we are quibbling over such a measly amount of money.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
Banco
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 9:29 pm

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 37):
and it's a shame we are quibbling over such a measly amount of money.

And that's pretty much my point. It's managed to become a news story when it needn't have.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
ANother
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RE: US Diplomats Run Up 200k Congestion Charges

Wed May 03, 2006 10:43 pm

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 22):
I wonder how much in petrol taxes the US diplomatic mission to the UK is paying. At $6 or $7 per gallon, it must be quite a tab.

In Geneva we have a lot of diplomats and international civil servants. They are exempt from petrol taxes (they have a special card and at 'designated' petrol stations the tax is removed before they pay. I saw a SUV with CD plates fill up the other day and paid only CHF22 for a fill. I would assume the same applies in the US - although they may get the tax rebated.

Interesting enough, in Swizerland, all cars that use the motorways must have a vignette (sticker in the window) that costs CHF40 for the year. CDs (including those from the US mission) are not exempt from this - if they want to use the motorways they have to pay.

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