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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April 2005, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Dismay at congestion charge hike
Business and transport groups have reacted with disappointment to the announcement that the congestion charge will rise to 8.

Congestion sign

Dan Bridgett of the London Chamber of Commerce said: "This is an extremely damaging and retrograde step which will appall businesses of all sizes which are already being hammered by the charge.

"Retailers and service businesses know to their cost that it is driving passing trade away from the centre of London."

Jo Valentine, chief executive of business campaign group London First, said: "We are appalled that Ken Livingstone has not listened to business.

"Increasing the congestion charge without improving the customer friendliness of the scheme or fixing the locations in the zone that remain heavily congested is a disgrace.

Despite overwhelming opposition to this, the mayor has ignored the voice of business
London Retail Consortium
"Introducing an automated pre-payment scheme for all users and tackling hot spots is a must and we will continue to press Ken to make this happen."

The London Retail Consortium also expressed its dismay at the move.

A spokesman said: "Despite overwhelming opposition to this, the mayor has ignored the voice of business.

"A 60% increase is far in excess of the bus and Tube fare rises announced in September.

Revenue objectives

"There must be real incentives to use public transport, rather than costly deterrents from driving, as all retail is dependent on locations with good accessibility and connectivity with their customers."

A spokesman for the AA Motoring Trust said: "Our view is that the increase seems to have gone away from traffic objectives to revenue objectives."

He said the aim of reducing congestion had already been met by the 5 charge and the effect of the additional 3 on this would be minimal.

"It doesn't seem logical that you can argue it on traffic benefits," he said.

It's not a money-maker. If you wanted to make money, you would reduce the charge, because" then more drivers would be happy to pay it
Green Party's Jenny Jones

The spokesman welcomed the discounts introduced to the scheme but added: "That doesn't offset a 60% increase.

"That combined with an over-reliance on penalty income makes the scheme seem a little bit money-grabbing."

But Jenny Jones from the London Green Party welcomed Mr Livingstone's decision.

She said: "Personally, I welcome the charge.

Putting the charge up to 8 is designed to deter people from bringing their cars into town.

"Fewer cars means cleaner air, less noise, a reduction in road deaths and casualties, and a more pleasant city for everyone.

"It's not a money-maker. If you wanted to make money, you would reduce the charge, because then more drivers would be happy to pay it."


SEE ALSO
Edinburgh rejects congestion plan
22 Feb 05 |  Scotland
Congestion charge may rise to 8
30 Nov 04 |  London

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