I will do what Ken Livingstone did not, and listen to Londoners on the Western extension. The Western extension was introduced despite the overwhelming opposition of local residents and I think that was wrong. I will consult the residents in the zone and on the border on whether we should keep the Western extension, and whatever the result I will abide by it.
Labour and the Greens really don’t like it, see their comments below. Knowing a few people who live in K&C and who greatly enjoy being able to commute into the City at a 90% discount their arguments simply don’t stack up. They talk about Â£70 million in income being lost. This is an exaggeration. If you look at page 122 of TfL’s Annual Report and Accounts you will see that the entire scheme had a net income of only Â£137.0 million last year. The idea that fully half of it will be lost by the loss of the Western Extension is ludicrous as are the rest of their claims.
Shawcross and Jones’ brand of nannying disdain of the democratic process is insulting and shows just how detached progressive types have become from the lives and aspirations of real people. The Mayor feels obliged to honour his manifesto commitment and still Shawcross and Jones insist that they know best and are prepared to tell porkies to make their case. Even the LibDems, notionally part of the progressive alliance but always keeping an eye to their own electoral advantage, have applauded the Mayor’s decision.
Comments from Shawcross and Jones below.
Val Shawcross for Labour says:
The rolling back of the congestion charge is a foolish and backward step by Boris Johnson. It will lose TfL Â£70 million 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.
London’s environment as a whole will suffer and local residents will no longer enjoy having 30,000 fewer cars a day clogging up their streets. At a time when TfL’s coffers are tight and the Mayor is scrapping major transport projects, they will now have the added costs of removing the cameras, changing road signs and removing street furniture, which cost Â£100 million to install.
The Mayor has shown his true colours today – petrol blue. The decision to remove the Western extension of the Congestion Charging zone shows that Boris is not interested in making London cleaner or improving life for cyclists and public transport users. It is yet another move in favour of the private car at the expense of walking, cycling and public transport.
Jenny Jones for the Greens says:
The congestion charge has been an incredibly successful method of traffic reduction. Scrapping the Western Extension will almost certainly lead to a sharp rise in traffic, more congestion, more air pollution and more climate change emissions.
Abolition of the extension could lead to fare rises, as the Mayor struggles to cope with an estimated Â£70m annual drop in income. This would be a straightforward swap from motorists paying to bus and tube passengers paying. This is bad news not only for pedestrians and cyclists, but also for anyone travelling in London and everyone who breathes London’s air.
The announcement comes only two days after the Mayor pledged to make London a ‘greener’ and more environmentally-friendly city. Boris’s environmental commitment now appears to be little more than a charade.