Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

C Charge Demo as Fury Mounts over Extension

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

C Charge Demo as Fury Mounts over Extension

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID WILLIAMS

CENTRAL London faces being brought to a standstill tomorrow when hundreds protest against the proposed congestion charge extension.

More than 100 vehicles, each crammed with families and traders opposed to plans to double the size of the zone, are expected to form a slow-moving convoy.

The protest - organised by the West London Residents Association and representing traders and those living in the area - will mass in Kensington at 11am.

Vehicles bearing banners, balloons and loudhailers will travel to Parliament Square where protesters will vent their disapproval of Mayor Ken Livingstone's scheme.

They fear the extension will harm local businesses as customers abandon them because they will not want to pay the extra charge. Businesses also fear the new charge will add to their overheads, especially if they have to pay the charge for company vehicles.

Residents claim that if the charge is extended to west London, they will be forced to pay to drive to essential local services and facilities.

They say that as there is little congestion in west London, a charge is unnecessary. "This is the only way we can make ourselves heard," said organiser Gordon Taylor.

"We are angry the Mayor refuses to listen to residents and businessmen in London who are very worried that any expansion of the zone will have a serious impact on them.

"This is our way of saying to the Mayor: 'You have got to listen to us.'" Protest co-organiser Natalie Cutler told the Standard: "We are very angry that the Mayor is refusing to listen to Londoners who are strongly opposed to this extension. Surveys show that a clear majority are against extending the zone into west London yet Ken Livingstone seems determined to push ahead with it."

Mrs Cutler, who runs a property management business, added: "When we did a similar convoy to the Mayor's house in November we got a terrific amount of support. Someone has to stand up to him."

After massing at Parliament Square, the protesters will head back via Fulham and Hammersmith before ending up at Kensington. …

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