Bond Mounts Legal Challenge to Mayor's Traffic TollDate: 8 January 2003
Actress Samantha Bond (pictured) is taking London mayor Ken Livingstone to court over the imminent traffic congestion charge. She's teamed up with restaurant workers and Smithfield market traders to lead a legal challenge to the £5 daily toll that will be imposed on all drivers into central London from 17 February 2003.
Bond - who's been nominated for a Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Best Actress award for her current role opposite Sean Bean's Macbeth at the Albery - first spoke out against Livingstone's traffic plan in November (See The Goss, 11 Nov 2002). She and a group of fellow actresses including Emilia Fox and Isla Blair - publicly supported by Macbeth director Edward Hall - wrote an open letter to the Sunday Telegraph, complaining that the charge puts at risk themselves and other women who work unsociable hours and depend on their cars to get home late at night.
Now Bond, along with meat porters and traders from Smithfield, are refusing to pay the toll. They say that, by not holding a proper consultation with people whose livelihood is dependent on driving in central London, Livingstone has breached their human rights. They will hold their own public meeting on 20 January 2003 at the Palace Theatre to air their grievances.
According to Bond, "This is not just about usherettes and lowly paid actresses, but a great swath of London's population who will suffer as a result of the charge, including teachers and nurses."
Livingstone has faced harsh criticism from Andrew Lloyd Webber and other theatreland figures over the past year, to the extent that he responded to various "anti-theatre" accusations in a letter to industry newspaper The Stage this past autumn (See News, 24 Oct 2002). With regards to the congestion charge, the mayor has already fended off court challenges from Westminster City Council and residents of Kennington in south London.
- by Terri Paddock