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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 16:31 GMT
Business backs congestion charge
Aerial view of central London
Traffic levels have fallen since the charge began
The controversial congestion charge has received the support of the city's major businesses a month to the day it was introduced.

Asked whether they thought the 5 charge was working, 74% of businesses questioned said yes, 3% said no and 23% were undecided.

The survey by London First, a business membership organisation which has long supported the charge, is a vote of confidence in the scheme which charges motorists 5 a day to drive into central London.

But with some small businesses on the charge zone boundary seeing takings fall by 15% or more since 17 February, not everyone believes the charge can yet be called a success.

Wine distribution company Cert Logistics is among those businesses benefiting from a 20% reduction in traffic.

It delivers wine to some of central London's top restaurants and hotels and says delivery times have been cut by as much as 50%.

Charge 'should be higher'

One of the company's managing directors, Michael Lainus, said he would like to see the charge tripled to 15.

He told BBC London: "I'm afraid we are seen as a little heretical in our trade but we actually believe the charge should be higher and maybe the area should be larger."

Only 5% of those surveyed felt it had harmed their business.

Most people, 65%, felt the scheme had no impact on their businesses while 30% said there were positive effects.

But the enthusiasm for the scheme was tempered by a mixed reaction to the technology it uses.

Two-thirds of those questioned said they had experienced problems registering their vehicles.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC London's Andrew Winstanley
"With the shoulders of big business now supporting the new tax, it is looking more like a permanent fixture."



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