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Friday, 23 March, 2001, 07:17 GMT
Councils shun congestion charging
jam
London's congestion charging is due to start in 2003
Local authority support for the government's plans to charge road users is at a record low, according to research.

A survey of 82 authorities found that just 6% were in support of congestion charges, with 8% backing fees for parking at work.

The study by the Institution of Civil Engineers, shown exclusively to BBC Radio Five Live, said that many authorities saw road pricing as "electoral suicide".

The institution believes that charging motorists is an essential tool in the fight against congestion, and accuses local authorities of putting election success before long-term strategy.

Road improvements

The idea of charging people for driving into towns and parking at work was initially supported by many local authorities.

The profits were to go on improvements in local transport.

London's congestion charging scheme is due to start in 2003, but elsewhere support has largely disappeared, says the report.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone wants to charge drivers 5 a day to enter the centre of the capital - or face a 100 fine.

The government's Road Charging Options for London report suggests such a scheme would reduce traffic by around 12%.

Integrated transport

It could also raise more than 200m towards improvements in London's public transport system.

It is hoped it will pave the way for an integrated transport system, balancing the use of public transport with the car.

But elsewhere in the country, transport planners say alternatives to driving must come in before charges can be levied, and they are waiting to see if the government will provide the funding.

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