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C-charge extension to be scrapped

27 November 08 11:30 GMT

The western extension of central London's congestion zone is to be scrapped, London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced.

He has revealed he is to begin legal procedures to remove the £8-a-day toll.

The move follows a public consultation in which 67% of respondents, including 86% of businesses, said they wanted the extended levy zone lifted.

The charge was extended to most of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea in west London last February.

It is thought that the earliest it could be removed is by spring 2010.

Mr Johnson said: "Londoners have spoken loud and clear, and the majority of people have said that they would like the scheme scrapped.

"One thing everybody should be assured of is my determination to make it easier for Londoners to get around our great city."

About 28,000 people had responded in the five-week public consultation.

The Labour party said the decision was "against the interest of Londoners".

Labour's transport spokesperson Val Shawcross said: "The rolling back of the congestion charge is a foolish and backward step by Boris Johnson.

"It will lose Transport for London (TfL) £70m a year that could have been spent on improving our public transport system, and will increase traffic and air pollution in one of the dirtiest and noisiest areas of central London."

Green Party's Jenny Jones said Mr Johnson's decision was "bad news" for "everyone who breathes London's air" and could lead to higher fares to make up for lost revenue.

"Boris's environmental commitment now appears to be little more than a charade."

'Common sense'

TfL said there would be a small increase in pollution and carbon dioxide emissions once vehicles returned to the area, but that it was unlikely to have a big impact on air quality.

A separate TfL survey of 2,000 residents and 1,000 businesses indicated that 41% wanted to end the toll charge.

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the decision, saying "common sense has prevailed".

A spokesman said: "This is an important milestone for many of the capital's hard-pressed businesses and we urge the mayor to launch a root-and-branch review of the original charging scheme in the central zone."

But Neil Churchill, chief executive of Asthma UK, called the decision "short-sighted" and said the breathing condition is made worse by traffic.

"This is a disaster for the 430,000 people in London whose asthma is triggered by traffic pollution."

The removal of the C-charge extension is part of the mayor's draft transport strategy, which will be subject to a 12-week public and stakeholder consultation to begin in summer 2009.

The TfL would also need to carry out a separate consultation to formally remove the western extension.

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