Thursday, 21 October 2010

Leaders Column: Greenhalgh on Western C-Charge

The second of this Blog's exclusive Leaders Columns has Cllr Greenhalgh giving his reaction to the Mayor's scrapping of the western extension of the C-Charge:

We are delighted that the Mayor of London has announced that the cameras monitoring the western extension of the congestion zone (WEZ) will be switched off from Christmas Eve.

In case you missed it , December 24 will be the last day that the controversial WEZ will operate after Boris Johnson listened to the results of three public consultations – which all favoured scrapping the scheme.

65 per cent of the 13,000 people who responded to the latest consultation wanted the zone scrapped and the £8 daily toll, which is set to rise to £10, will now only affect central London as the zone is stripped back to its original size.

Here at Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council, where we have consistently campaigned against the extension ever since it was created in February 2007, we completely welcome the move.
There is a collective sigh of relief in west London now that this invisible Berlin Wall has finally been torn down. The extension did not reduce congestion and only served to cut residents and businesses off from their services and customers.

During these tough economic times it was vital that this onerous stealth tax was consigned to the dustbin of history and we are pleased that the Mayor has listened to our concerns.”

After it was created the WEZ quickly became known as West London’s Berlin Wall – due to the invisible barrier it created between neighbourhoods.

Transport for London (TfL) has predicted it will lose around £55 million but critics point-out that the extension failed in its central aim of reducing congestion in west London.

Before the extension was added– a TfL study showed H&F had the most congested roads in London. The figures revealed a mind numbing 7.6 million hours lost in traffic, compared to 6.9 million in neighbouring Kensington & Chelsea. More than three years later, there is no evidence that the roads in the borough have become less congested.

The Mayor originally announced his intention to ditch the WEZ last November after 67 per cent of residents and 86 per cent of businesses said they wanted it removed.

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