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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 13:54 GMT
Cardiff eyes London road charges
Cars
Traffic in Cardiff is predicted to rise at an 'alarming rate'

On the first anniversary of the introduction of congestion charges in London, there is still a possibility scheme could be introduced in Cardiff.

Cardiff Council said traffic was predicted to rise an "alarming rate" and charging people to enter the city centre would reduce traffic by around 20% - a greater reduction than that usually experienced during the school holidays.

But the authority said it would not consider introducing fees until it had improved the general standard of public transport and plans for those improvements are being revised and will be published in August 2005

The idea of introducing congestion charges - which could help pay for any modernisation - was first mooted in May last year in a White Paper called Keeping Cardiff Moving.

But speaking on Tuesday, a council spokesman said no formal decision had yet been made on how the city would adopt the scheme and how it would operate.

The traffic is driving me around the bend. I don't think the city is big enough for it all
Taxi driver Albert Deity
"The authority has asked the Welsh National Assembly to commence the necessary legal processes to enable the Council to take on these powers - but no formal decision has yet been made on whether the Council will adopt a charging scheme or the detail of how it would operate," he added.

"And a further formal consultation process would have to be carried out before these decisions were ever made."

If the city's taxi drivers were asked for their opinion - their reply would be emphatic.

Driver Albert Deity said traffic had dramatically increased over the last three years.

"The traffic is driving me around the bend. I don't think the city is big enough for it all," he added.

'Gateway to Wales'

But while London's mayor Ken Livingstone declared the congestion charge scheme a success - traffic down by 18% and delays by 30% - there are claims that trade in the city has suffered as a result.

When asked if charges would interfere with businesses in the city centre, Chairman of Cardiff's Chamber of Commerce Frank Maloney said while members would not reject the scheme outright, they would be cautious.

"Cardiff is the focus and the gateway to Wales," he said.

"We must make sure the negativity surrounding the toll on the bridge isn't augmented by a toll to come into Cardiff."

But Neil Crumpton, transport spokesman for Friends of the Earth Cymru, said as traffic was growing doing nothing was simply "not an option".

"What we can do in Cardiff to improve the amenity of the environment is to raise money with a small congestion charge," he said.

"One that's only charged at peak times if necessary - and raise the money for improved transport services so there's no overcrowding on trains, better bus routes etc."




SEE ALSO:
Cash warning on congestion charge
17 Feb 04  |  Scotland


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