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Parking Problems in London

Now I grant you that this may not look like the most luxurious of apartments, but believe me when I tell you that it is in one of the more desirable areas of London.

Put it this way, if I can survive until the Olympics arrive here in 2012, I'll die rich after renting it to the North Korean pole-vaulting team for two weeks.

But it isn't cheap to live here. And in one of the most expensive cities in the world, having a car is beginning to break the bank.

Mine is parked right out there. It's an Audi, since you ask. A license to park my car on the street costs me around a hundred and fifty dollars a year. And add to that another license to drive the car on the streets of Central London during the day, which costs me another hundred and fifty dollars a year, and that's after a ninety percent discount because I'm a resident.

But now the worthy councilors of Richmond, one of the richest of the outer London boroughs, are about to take taxing the wealthy motorist to a new ugly height -- until the pips squeak. Their idea is to introduce a scale of residential parking charges, depending on the pollution produced by the vehicle. So, you could park your electric car on the road outside your house all year for free. But if it's a gas guzzler, an SUV or a high performance sports car, and especially if it's a second family car, then you will get whacked.

The current charge is a hundred and eighty five dollars a year. But next year, the residents will have to fork out five hundred and fifty dollars. The aim is laudable; To reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, and encourage us all to switch to environmentally friendly cars.

But Richmond Council may have missed the point. It's one of the few places in London where the houses of the rich don't front onto the road. Nearly all of them have sweeping drives up to their homes - private property over which the council has no jurisdiction. These people never need to worry. It's the poor people, with their cars parked roadside, who are going to feel the pain. This is Simon Bates for CBS News in London.

by Simon Bates