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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 August, 2004, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Mayor backs charge zone extension
Congestion charge sign
Drivers are charged 5-a-day to enter the congestion charge zone
The mayor of London has cleared the way for a major extension to the congestion charge zone, despite strong opposition.

Ken Livingstone has changed his transport strategy to back in principle a western extension to the zone.

Nearly two thirds of the 100,000 people consulted said they did not want an extension into Kensington and Chelsea.

The mayor said he would try to address concerns before giving the scheme, which could be in place by late 2006, final approval, subject to funding.

First he will have to find the 110m estimated set-up costs for the scheme, as well as finalise details and concerns that have been raised in the consultation.

But he dismissed criticism that he was ignoring the results of the survey.

It found that 66% of people in the extension area, and 62% of people overall, opposed the plan.

This is a slap in the face to all of those residents who took the trouble to register their opposition to this scheme
Angie Bray, Tory London Assembly member

Mr Livingstone said that there had been a lot of initial opposition to the existing scheme, but it was now widely accepted

He said: "The proposal to extend the zone is clearly controversial. Consultations however tend to draw responses primarily from those opposed to whatever is being consulted upon.

"That is not to say that those responses have been discounted, they have not, as I have asked for further work to be undertaken to examine the issues raised."

The extended boundary would stop just short of Shepherd's Bush to the west, run as far north as Kensal Green Cemetery and down to Chelsea Embankment in the south.

Divide communities

But Kensington and Chelsea council leader Merrick Cockell said it would divide communities in a way the central zone does not.

"The boundaries are clearer in Kensington and Chelsea, it will have an enormous effect," he told BBC London.

The mayor said he will look again at the proposed boundary, making it easier to pay the charge and possibly making the charge end half an hour earlier at 1800 BST.

But his critics remain unconvinced.

The AA said: "It is a high-risk strategy that is going to affect loads more residents and it is going to be more confusing than the current scheme."

Conservative London Assembly member Angie Bray attacked the public consultation as "a sham".

She said: "This is a slap in the face to all of those residents who took the trouble to register their opposition to this scheme.

"A two-thirds majority of residents against expansion is no small margin and yet the mayor has totally ignored their views."

Map of proposed extension




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Tim Donovan
"Transport for London insists there's a good case for extending this radical traffic-calming measure"



SEE ALSO:
Congestion toll hits restaurants
12 Jul 04  |  London
Charging round Chelsea
12 Jun 04  |  UK
Protest over congestion charging
05 Jun 04  |  London
Retailer's fear on congestion fee
21 Apr 04  |  Scotland


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