Congestion Charge Zone's Western Extension To Be Scrapped

By Spring 2010 following results of Mayor's public consultation

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The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has announced that the results of a public consultation on the western extension mean he will begin the legal processes required to remove the Western Extension of the Congestion Charging zone. Over two thirds of Londoners and businesses responding to the consultation on the future of the zone have said they want it scrapped.

The five-week informal public consultation attracted nearly 28,000 responses and overall 67 per cent of individual respondents and 86 per cent of businesses responding to the public consultation supported the removal of the zone. Nineteen per cent stated that they wanted the extension kept as it is, and 12 per cent supported changing the scheme to improve the way that it operates.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said,“Londoners have spoken loud and clear, and the majority of people have said that that they would like the scheme scrapped. I am instructing Transport for London to begin work on the process of a formal consultation on the removal of the Western Extension."

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, H&F Council Leader, said,“The vast majority of local residents have consistently said they wanted this scheme to be scrapped and now that it is gone thousands of residents will benefit. This is a brave decision by the Mayor who has listened to Londoners in the face of tough resistance from TfL."

London Assembly Member Tony Arbour also welcomed the announcement saying, "I am delighted the Western Extension to the Congestion Charge is to be abolished. Had it continued Chiswick would have been next! Boris Johnson promised to abandon this project, which was deeply unpopular with both residents and the businesses of west London. The people have spoken through the consultation he promised, and the Western Extension will be scrapped."

However the London Cycling Campaign believes the Mayor has taken "a giant leap backwards". Koy Thomson, chief executive of LCC said, “The world envied London for the courage of its congestion charge. Scrapping the western extension means more pollution, £70 million less for improving transport, and more congestion: does the mayor think this is what the people who spoke against the charge really wanted? This move will increase London’s contribution to climate change, and exacerbate London’s health and obesity crisis. It has been terrible failure of leadership.”

“November has seen a triple whammy for cyclists: first, motorbikes in bus lanes; second, slashing the borough cycle route budgets; finally, scrapping the cycle-promoting western congestion charge. Shrinking the zone risks reversing the associated increases in cycling, causing public health to decline and casualties to rise.”

Alongside the consultation, Transport for London (TfL) conducted a survey of the attitudes of 2,000 Londoners and 1,000 London-based businesses to gauge how representative the consultation responses were. Removing the Western Extension was the preferred option of 41 per cent of members of the public against 30 per cent in favour of keeping it. Half of businesses surveyed wanted the extension scrapped and 23 per cent supported keeping it. Fifteen per cent of members of the public and 14 per cent of businesses said they would change the way the scheme operates.

A draft revision to the Mayor’s Transport Strategy reflecting his intention to remove the Western Extension will be the subject of a 12-week statutory public and stakeholder consultation scheduled for summer 2009. Following this, TfL would also need to consult the public and stakeholders on a variation to the Congestion Charging Scheme Order to formally remove the Western Extension.

The Western Extension cannot be removed until these statutory consultation procedures have been concluded and the Mayor has taken into account the views expressed in the consultations and decided whether or not to confirm his decision. The earliest that the extension could be removed is spring 2010.

November 27, 2008