Congestion Charging: coming soon?
Mr Livingstone plans to extend the Congestion Charge scheme (CCS) if
re-elected. Conservative Mayoral candidate Stephen Norris plans to scrap the
charge. The Council believes any extension of the CCS is premature. The
indication is that congestion within the Borough has not reduced since the
scheme started and some retailers are complaining about a fall in trade. Only 26
per cent of Kensington and Chelsea's Residents' Panel supported the proposals
under consultation. So what are Mr Livingstone's precise plans for
Kensington and Chelsea? What are the Council's concerns? And what are local
people saying now?
The Mayor's plans
Precise details of Mr Livingstone's plans are, as yet, unknown. Consultation
on the CCS is now not due to start before next year, with a possible
implementation in spring of 2006, after the next Mayoral election set for May
2004. The proposed boundary may not follow the Borough perimeter, as one might
logically expect. Instead it could have a western border going down the Earl's
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Council's concerns grow
While research initially showed the impact of congestion charging has reduced
traffic levels by around 15 per cent in central London, the introduction of the
CCS has not led to an overall reduction in congestion in Kensington and Chelsea.
Consultants working on behalf of the Council have discovered increases in
traffic flows at some key spots, including the Earl's Court one-way system.
This Council argues that more time and evidence is needed before the Mayor
of London takes any decision about expanding the CCS.
Other key questions from the Council remain unanswered. Will the CCS have an
effect on recruiting and retaining teachers, nurses and other key workers within
the Borough? Will visitors to Kensington and Chelsea be deterred by the CCS?
When it comes to the 21,939 of residents (14 per cent) who live outside the
proposed zone, trips to local supermarkets, schools, doctors or dentists would
either require the charge to be paid or trips to be planned around the times of
the CCS. The answer here, from the Council's perspective, is to avoid at all
costs a messy solution that divides the community. Any expanded scheme should
run along the Borough boundary.
As far as the impact on business is concerned, the jury is
still out. A recent survey of small businesses by the Royal Borough indicated
that the overwhelming majority noted the CCS had a detrimental effect on their
business. Prior to that, a survey in July of 500 businesses by London First
found that less than half now believe the £5-a-day scheme is working.
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In April, a questionnaire was sent to the Residents' Panel (a sample of
residents, recruited and maintained over a period of years who are canvassed for
their views on a variety of subjects). The results gave a clear indication that
the local community was lukewarm about extending the CCS.
- The majority (55 per cent) of residents were 'opposed' or 'strongly
opposed' to an extension of the scheme
- Only 26 per cent were in favour of extending the congestion charge to
cover just part of the Borough
- 43 per cent now drive in to the CCS less often than before
Residents wanted an unqualified answer about whether the Royal Borough would
receive the 90 per cent discount on season tickets granted to residents in the
original CCS. Seventy per cent of residents were adamant that the discount
should apply. The Mayor of London has yet to announce his intentions on
The Mayor's new evidence
In contrast to the findings of the Council's consultation, a telephone survey
of 693 Royal Borough residents and 316 non-residents commissioned by Mr
Livingstone found that:
- 43 per cent of Royal Borough residents favour the extension of the scheme
to cover the Borough
- 42 per cent oppose the extension of the scheme, even with the 90 per cent
discount and the ability to drive into central London
- 15 per cent have no opinion
Mr Livingstone's question also failed to point out that 14 per cent of
Kensington and Chelsea residents might be excluded from the zone.
As Council Leader, Councillor Merrick Cockell pointed out in response:
"It is clear that people want one policy that applies right across our
Borough. Mr Livingstone's proposals, in contrast, would divide the
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Do you agree with Councillor Cockell? According to the Earl's Court ward's
newsletter: "This would be terrible for Earl's Court with every motorist…
having to go in-and-out of the Zone, at some cost, most times we travel. It
would also be very bad for local businesses… It is also important that there
is only one zone.. [with the] same discount on season tickets granted to
residents in the original Westminster zone."
The Mayor of London has been invited to visit Earl's Court to see the impact
of the CCS on the community. The Council wants Mr Livingstone to witness
first-hand just how effective the congestion charge is proving to be in the
Over to you
Do these issues ring true for residents in other wards? Email email@example.com
with any questions or views on plans to extend the Congestion Charge Scheme.
Your feedback is invaluable to us.