London congestion charge

The London congestion charge is a fee charged on most cars and motor vehicles operating within the Congestion Charge Zone in Central London between 07:00 and 18:00 Mondays to Fridays. The Congestion Charge does not operate on weekends, public holidays or between Christmas Day and New Year's Day; the charge was first introduced on 17 February 2003. As of 2017, the London charge zone is still one of the largest congestion charge zones in the world, despite the removal of the Western Extension which operated between February 2007 and January 2011; the charge helps to not only reduce high traffic flow in the city streets, but reduces air and noise pollution in the central London area and raise investment funds for London's transport system. The standard charge is £11.50 for each day, for each non-exempt vehicle driven within the zone, with a penalty of between £65 and £195 levied for non-payment. In July 2013 the Ultra Low Emission Discount introduced more stringent emission standards that limit the free access to the congestion charge zone to all-electric cars, some plug-in hybrids, any vehicle that emits 75g/km or less of CO2 and meets the Euro 5 standards for air quality.

On 8 April 2019, the Ultra Low Emission Zone was introduced, which applies 24/7 to vehicles which do not meet the emissions standards: Euro 4 standards for petrol vehicles, Euro 6 or VI for diesel and large vehicles. From 2021, the ULEZ will be expanded to the South Circular Roads; the ULEZ replaced the T-charge. From 2021, the congestion charge exemption will apply only to pure electric vehicles and from 2025 there will be no discounts for electric vehicles. Enforcement is based on automatic number plate recognition. Transport for London is responsible for the charge, operated by IBM since 2009. During the first ten years since the introduction of the scheme, gross revenue reached about £2.6 billion up to the end of December 2013. From 2003 to 2013, about £1.2 billion has been invested in public transport and bridge improvement and walking and cycling schemes. Of these, a total of £960 million was invested on improvements to the bus network; the congestion charging scheme resulted in a 10% reduction in traffic volumes from baseline conditions, an overall reduction of 11% in vehicle kilometres in London between 2000 and 2012.

Despite these gains, traffic speeds have been getting progressively slower over the past decade in central London. TfL explains that the historic decline in traffic speeds is most due to interventions that have reduced the effective capacity of the road network to improve the urban environment, increase road safety and prioritise public transport and cycle traffic, as well as an increase in road works by utilities and general development activity since 2006. TfL concludes that while levels of congestion in central London are close to pre-charging levels, the effectiveness of the congestion charge in reducing traffic volumes means that conditions would be worse without the Congestion Charging scheme; the current congestion charge zone covers the area within the London Inner Ring Road which includes both the City of London, the main financial district, the West End, London's primary commercial and entertainment centre. Although a commercial area, there are 136,000 residents, out of a total Greater London population of 9,000,000.

There is little heavy industry within the zone. Starting at the northernmost point and moving clockwise, the major roads defining the boundary are Pentonville Road, City Road, Old Street, Commercial Street, Mansell Street, Tower Bridge Road, New Kent Road and Castle, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall Bridge Road, Park Lane, Edgware Road, Marylebone Road and Euston Road. Signs were erected and symbols painted on the road to help drivers recognise the congestion charge area; the Western Extension, introduced in February 2007 and removed on 4 January 2011, included areas surrounded by the following roads starting from the north-westernmost point: Scrubs Lane, Harrow Road, Park Lane, Vauxhall Bridge Road, Grosvenor Road, Chelsea Embankment, Earl's Court Road and part of the West Cross Route, but the Westway itself was not part of the zone. In January 2013 Transport for London opened a public consultation to increase the standard charge 15% by mid 2014, from £10 per day to £11.50 if paid in advance or on the day.

The increase was expected to generate an estimated £84 million of additional revenue by the end of 2017/18. The consultation process ran from January 2014 to March 2014. According to TfL the objective of the increase was to recoup inflation over the past three years and ensure the charge remains an effective deterrent to making unnecessary journeys in central London; as of 16 June 2014 the following charges apply:The standard fee is £11.50 per day if paid by midnight on the day of travel, £14 if paid by the end of the following day, or £10.50 if registered with CC Autopay, an automated payment system which records the number of charging days a vehicle travels within the charging zone each month and bills the customer debit or credit card each month. Businesses with six or more vehicles can register with Fleet Auto Pay, will be charged £10.50 rather than £11.50 per vehicle per day for each vehicle detected within the zone. From 20 May 2013 failure to pay results in the issuance of a Penalty Charge Notice for £130, reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days, but increased to £195 if unpaid after 28 days.

Refunds are available annually in advance whose plans change.

Buenos Aires Japanese Gardens

The Buenos Aires Japanese Gardens are a public space administered by the non-profit Japanese Argentine Cultural Foundation in Buenos Aires and are one of the largest Japanese gardens of its type in the world outside Japan. Following the demolition of a similar, smaller garden in the Retiro area, the Japanese Argentine Cultural Foundation secured a title to 2 hectares on the northeast corner of the city's extensive Parque Tres de Febrero for the purpose of creating a replacement. Completed in 1967, the gardens were inaugurated on occasion of a State visit to Argentina by then-Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko of Japan, its entrance on Figueroa Alcorta Avenue led to the gardens, a cultural center, restaurant, a greenhouse known for its collection of bonsai trees and a gift shop featuring an extensive selection of Asian garden seeds, as well as craftwork made by artisans on the grounds. The central lake is crossed by the Divine Bridge, traditionally representing entry into Heaven and by the Truncated Bridge, leading to an island where Japanese medicinal herbs are grown.

The lake is surrounded by flora of Japan, such as sakura, katsura and azalea. The park, however features complementing species native to South America, notably tipa and floss silk trees; the lake itself is populated with carp. Small numbers of epiphytic bromeliads of genus Tillandsia can be seen as well as one orchid of the widespread and diverse genus Oncidium; the park is graced by a Japanese Peace Bell and a large ishidoro, as well as numerous other granite sculptures. A Japanese Buddhist Temple is maintained on the grounds and the Institute hosts regular cultural activities for the general public. Alfred Zucker designed an open-air theatre for the park. Japanese Argentine Instituto Privado Argentino-Japonés Japanese Association of Rosario The Buenos Aires Japanese Gardens

Matilda of Brabant, Countess of Artois

Matilda of Brabant was the eldest daughter of Henry II, Duke of Brabant and his first wife Marie of Hohenstaufen. On 14 June 1237, her 13th birthday, Matilda married her first husband Robert I of Artois. Robert was 21 years old and the fifth son of Louis VIII of Blanche of Castile, they had two children: Blanche of Artois. Married first Henry I of Navarre and secondly Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster. Robert II, Count of Artois. On 8 February 1250, Robert I was killed while participating in the Seventh Crusade. On 16 January 1255, Matilda married Count of Saint-Pol, he was Count of Blois and Mary, Countess of Blois. They had six children: Hugh II, Count of Blois, Count of Saint Pol and Count of Blois Guy IV, Count of Saint-Pol, Count of Saint Pol Jacques I of Leuze-Châtillon, first of the lords of Leuze, married Catherine de Condé and had issue. Beatrix, married John I of Brienne, Count of Eu Jeanne, married Guillaume III de Chauvigny, Lord of Châteauroux Gertrude, married Florent, Lord of Mechelen.

Dunbabin, Jean. The French in the Kingdom of Sicily, 1266–1305. Cambridge University Press. Gee, Loveday Lewes. Women and patronage from Henry III to Edward III, 1216-1377; the Boydell Press. Nieus, Jean-François. Un pouvoir comtal entre Flandre et France: Saint-Pol, 1000-1300. De Boeck & Larcier. Pollock, M. A.. Scotland and France after the Loss of Normandy, 1204-1296; the Boydell Press. Her profile, along with her father, in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley