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EDITIONS
Monday, 15 July, 2002, 05:27 GMT 06:27 UK
Congestion charges face legal challenge
London traffic
Ken Livingstone says the charges will cut traffic by 15%
Plans to charge motorists 5 a day to drive into central London are to be challenged in the High Court on Monday.

Westminster Council will argue that Mayor Ken Livingstone's decision to introduce the congestion charges from next February is in breach of residents' human rights.

They claim people living just outside the charging zone will see their streets turned into polluted rat-runs, as motorists search for routes exempt from the fee.

The council will also claim that many people will be cut off from essential services - including doctors' surgeries, schools and shops - and that there was inadequate consultation about the scheme.

'Proper debate'

Westminster Council, backed by the Kennington Association, will ask for a judicial review to stop the daily fee being imposed.


We need to have a proper public transport infrastructure

Westminster Council
They will argue for a public inquiry into its effects and a more detailed analysis of its likely environmental impact.

The council will claim that Transport for London (TfL), which is responsible for the scheme, ignored evidence that congestion charges could have significant effects on air quality.

It says the details were published in a study commissioned by TfL from Halcrow Fox.

Kit Malthouse, the council's deputy leader, said: "We need a proper debate on the merits and practicalities of the scheme.

"Above all, we need to have a proper public transport infrastructure before a congestion charging scheme can be introduced".

Decisions

Mr Livingstone and TfL believe they can defeat the legal challenge and have earmarked 2.3m to cover their fees.

They believe the congestion charge will reduce traffic to "summer school holiday levels".

Mr Livingstone said: "Everyone of my decisions has been looked at by barristers and subject to proper legal study.

"We have done everything possible to proceed lawfully and we hope that we will be allowed to proceed on this basis."

Discounts

Under the scheme motorists will be charged for driving into central London between 7am and 6.30pm from Monday to Friday.

About 230 cameras will be used to take pictures of number plates, which will then be checked with a central database to see if the fee has been paid.

There will be discounts for residents and exemptions for certain professions.

Anyone who is caught not paying will be fined up to 120.

Mr Livingstone and TfL argue the scheme will raise up to 130m a year for public transport improvements.

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The BBC's Tom Symonds
"London traffic moves at an average 10 miles per hour"

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