Londoners opposed to extension of congestion charge zone

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The Independent Online

Despite the much-trumpeted success of London's congestion charge, the Mayor, Ken Livingstone, would face massive opposition if he tried to extend it to most other areas of the capital, a survey published yesterday shows.

Nearly two thirds of Londoners are opposed to an extension of the zone to their areas, the poll for the London Assembly's transport committee found. The only boroughs where residents would welcome the £5 levy are Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster - among the richest areas in Britain - where householders are being consulted on the introduction of the scheme. About 53 per cent of people in these areas support the expansion of the zone.

In Tower Hamlets and Haringey - containing some of the poorest people in the country - about two thirds of residents oppose its introduction. It has been suggested that Tower Hamlets would make a logical eastward extension of the zone, which currently covers eight square miles of central London.

Opposition to the charge is even more marked in outer areas of London such as Havering and Croydon, where support is as low as 16 per cent.

The survey of 1,200 Londoners in six parts of the capital showed there was "still much to do'' to convince householders of the benefits of the system, according to Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat chairwoman of the committee. She said that while the existing scheme had been a spectacular success, a more flexible approach might have to be taken elsewhere to reflect local priorities.

The poll found a predictable discrepancy between the views of drivers and non-drivers. About 32 per cent of motorists supported introducing the scheme in their borough, but the proportion rose to 43 per cent among non-motorists.