The Leader of Kingston Council has met with the Mayor of London to discuss various issues affecting the borough – including his concerns about the Conservative’s tax schemes which will drain cash from local businesses and schools to pay for a central-London rail service.
Boris started the meeting in City Hall by complimenting Kingston on our shopping centre and marvellous theatre. It then got down to the nitty-gritty issue of the Conservative Mayor’s tax plans for the borough.
We pressed for transport investment for Kingston and South London rather than charging Kingston residents, businesses and schools for a railway project which links Berkshire to Essex through a central London line. It will be of no benefit to local people. Taxing Kingston to pay for Crossrail, especially at such a difficult economic time, is ludicrously unfair.
Under current plans, the London Mayor will enforce a Supplementary Business Rates tax on Kingston at 2p in the pound: an identical rate to which central London companies who are based directly next to proposed new rail stations will be charged.
As schools, hospitals and the Council pay business rates, the Conservative Mayor is placing a direct tax on Kingston rate payers and will drain an estimated £70,000 from local education budgets.
We also informed the Mayor of our opposition to the Conservative Mayor using the Community Infrastructure Levy - which will take money from local developers in Kingston to subsidise Crossrail, rather than allowing councils to spend contributions on local schemes such as environmental projects or transport improvements.
Boris made no formal commitments at our meeting to reverse his disastrous tax plan. It is clear than the Conservative Mayor continues to ignore the demands of outer-London boroughs, such as our need for better public transport links, but is happy to enforce unfair taxes on residents to pay for projects in central London. The self-declared ‘Mayor of outer London’ is being just as central London biased as Ken Livingstone.
Cllr Simon James who is the Liberal Democrat administration’s Executive Member for Planning and has been campaigning against the unfair system of the Crossrail tariffs, welcomed the lobbying of the Mayor.
Cllr James said: “Whilst I am wholeheartedly in favour of better transport infrastructure across London, it is simply outrageous that all businesses should pay the same rate irrespective of the benefits they will receive from Crossrail. Companies based in Berkshire who are directly on the proposed new rail line will pay nothing for it, whilst local businesses and organisations in Kingston, who are many, many miles away from any Crossrail station face hefty new taxes.”