Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Go West?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Go West?

Article excerpt

IT MIGHT be easy for the Mayor to assume that because Kensington and Chelsea is an affluent area, those who run small businesses there can shoulder extra costs. But that is far from true, as a study of the congestion charge by the London Chamber of Commerce makes clear. The western zone to which the Mayor plans to extend charging in 2007 includes many small shops and restaurants, quite different from the corporate offices and big firms of the central zone. John Lewis and other retailers believe the charge contributed to their difficulties in Oxford Street, and the impact to the west, where smaller companies are more vulnerable to changes in turnover, will very likely be worse. What is more, we know that it would take more than a decade to recoup the costs of extension. Congestion in the centre, meanwhile, is likely to rise once again as those living in the western zone acquire residents' discounts for journeys in both the new and existing zones.

The only possible reason for the extension seems to be that the Mayor wants an enlarged London scheme in place before any potential nationwide system of road pricing gets off the ground, bringing with it the threat that revenue generated in the capital would be redistributed by the Treasury. …

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