Chambers briefing

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Business leaders have called on Tony Blair to press ahead with congestion charges on car drivers to help reduce traffic jams. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the British Chambers of Commerce, warned that traffic congestion was costing business between pounds 15bn and pounds 20bn a year.

"It acts as a major brake on business competitiveness and an unnecessary drag on the economy, said the BCC's deputy director general Dr Ian Peters. "The UK cannot afford not to tackle this problem."

The letter follows reports that the Government's transport White Paper may backtrack on measures to penalise drivers before the election. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said it would be inappropriate to comment on any plans before the White Paper was published.