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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 04:11 GMT
Businesses voice views over c-charge
By Colette Hibbert
BBC London

Businesses in west London are bracing themselves for the expansion of the congestion charging zone, which begins on 19 February.

Congestion charge
The westward expansion comes into effect from 19 February

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) say the extension of the zone to include Kensington and Chelsea will undoubtedly mean bad news for small businesses.

FPB chief executive, Nick Goulding, said: "Increasing the charge has led to increased costs... costs that have to be absorbed by companies in the price of their goods and services.

"This won't be accepted by the consumer who will merely opt to take their custom to cheaper firms outside the zone."

But are all firms treating the congestion zone expansion with such trepidation?

HEALTH & BEAUTY COMPANY, NOTTING HILL

Roifield Brown
Roifield Brown said the expansion of the zone is a "great idea"

Roifield Brown runs dStress24, a mobile health and beauty company, in Notting Hill, where he lives.

He said if the introduction of the congestion charge in the area reduced congestion then he was "all for it".

"I'm all for helping the environment and if there is less congestion in the area then this can only be a good thing.

However, clients booking treatments between the charging period of 0700 and 1800 GMT will have to pay a 10 surcharge on top of the usual treatment cost.

"It's simple, if you want to book a massage with one of our therapists for 6pm, you need to say to yourself could you not wait until 7pm for example, when it will be 10 cheaper," he said.

BUTCHERS, MAYFAIR

Justin Preston, managing director of Rare Butchers of Distinction, in Mayfair, supplies meat to the top end of the restaurant market.

All of his 14 vehicles goes through the zone, but he said the expansion will not affect him greatly.

"I don't believe expanding the zone will help anyone," he said.

"Money raised from the congestion charge should be spent on a better public transport system. But at the moment I do not see that happening.

"There are too many cars on the road. If we can have a better public transport system, the congestion charge and the revenue made could perhaps, in some ways, be worthwhile."

VEHICLE SERVICING COMPANY, LADBROKE GROVE

Nicole Borovec
Nicole Borovec said expanding the zone will be negative

Nicole Borovec, from a vehicle servicing and sales company in Ladbroke Grove, said the extension of the zone will have a "negative" impact on the company.

She said initial calculations showed the firm will be paying around 15,000 a year as a result.

"This figure is worked out on the basis of how many times we will be paying 8 a day for the charge."

But she said the figure does not take into consideration the potential loss of business the company could face or the increased administration costs.

"We hope we will not be faced with having to move out of the area," she said.

FASHION SHOP OWNER, KENSINGTON

Roubi L'Roubi is a fashion designer and artist who owns a fashion shop in Kensington, just outside the zone.

Mr L'Roubi said he did not feel the charging zone was being expanded for the right reasons.

"Traffic is not such a big deal in this area," he said.

"There is hardly any congestion so I don't feel that there is going to be much of a difference when the zone is expanded. Therefore there is no point in extending the zone, just to make money."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
A worker from Notting Hill gives her views



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