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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 00:08 GMT
Thumbs down for congestion charge
By Jane Mower
BBC News, London

Map of zone including the extension

As west London prepares to be swallowed into Ken Livingstone's congestion charging zone the voices against the move seem to grow stronger.

While the mayor has said it will serve to reduce traffic in the zone by up to 22%, residents say it will only result in an increase in vehicles.

Despite considerable opposition to the scheme drivers venturing into the extended zone in Kensington and Chelsea from 19 February will have to pay 8-a-day.

BBC News talked to three people whose lives will be affected by the extension.

THE SELF-EMPLOYED VOICE THERAPIST

Nikki Slade, 44, a self-employed voice therapist who lives just outside the zone, said the extension is putting her business at risk.

She travels to venues across central London and has been forced to put up her prices by 25% in order to cover the costs of the congestion charge.

"I have a harmonium, drums, stands and other things which I put in my estate car," she said.

Nikki Slade
Ms Slade uses her car to transport instruments for her job

"I have to transport these things around as I work at venues where I can't avoid the zone.

"I have to travel into the zone twice a week which is currently costing 16 a week but that is going to jump to 40 a week.

"The whole purpose is to free up traffic in London. What will happen is that wealthier people than me, living in Chelsea, will now be given a huge discount and they will get to drive around in the zone for less than they did before.

"I think they should give me some sort of discount as I can't avoid using my car for my job and I'm not driving around for fun.

"I'm not allergic to the Tube but there wouldn't be any room for anyone else if I got on with all my equipment."

THE PLIGHT OF THE CARER

Diane Noel, 54, of Harbord Street in Fulham, regularly drives three-miles to her elderly mother's house in Onslow gardens, South Kensington, which falls into the zone extension.

From 19 February she will have to pay 8-a-day in order to make the journey and continue caring for her mother.

"I go and see her most days. She is losing her memory but otherwise she is perfectly fit and healthy," she said.

"She has never been a driver and what Ken Livingstone is doing is penalising her for not being a driver, not being disabled and still depending on her family coming to see her.

If I didn't visit her she would get more and more depressed and low
Diane Noel

"It is an extra stress and expense when she is not demanding anything from the state.

"If I didn't visit her she would get more and more depressed and low, she would have very few visitors and her life would become very solitary.

"I go there to do her shopping, take her to doctors appointments, take her places to make sure she is being made to feel part of the family and generally ensure a good quality of life."

THE TWO-CAR FAMILY

Jo Tamlyn lives in Dawson Place, Notting Hill, which will become part of the congestion charge zone under the new rules.

Her husband travels out of London for work, but will have to pay as he leaves their home after the charge comes into force at 0700 GMT.

Jo Tamlyn
Ms Tamlyn said there was no congestion in the western extension

"We already pay a great deal for our parking, it costs 111 per car, per year for residents' parking and it will cost an extra 210 for one car to be registered under the congestion charge extension zone.

"There are really strong feelings in the borough. There was a huge consultation, nobody wanted it and it's being forced on us, that is not a democracy.

"There is no congestion in the western extension. Those who are going to be forced to pay for it every day, instead of using public transport, will use their cars as it will be cheaper.

Residents' parking

"A major problem is that a lot of people find they cannot park in residents' parking when they return home late at night and have got to go out in the morning to move their car.

"Although they may not be using the car that day they will have to pay in order to move it.

"Also you can only buy a minimum of a week if you're on a reduced rate - we should be able to pay on a daily rate.

"A congestion charge should be kept to a relatively small area, as soon as you enlarge it you lose the point of it. All you're doing is including more people not reducing congestion."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Views of a Londoner who will have to pay the congestion charge



SEE ALSO
Borough wants congestion charge
07 Feb 07 |  London
Polluting cars face charge rise
14 Nov 06 |  London

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