Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fears over Expansion C Charge; Three Weeks to Go and Warning of Clogged Streets outside New Zone

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fears over Expansion C Charge; Three Weeks to Go and Warning of Clogged Streets outside New Zone

Article excerpt


GROWING concern about the impact of the congestion charge zone's western extension emerged today.

Politicians and transport experts fear many roads will suffer increased traffic levels as drivers attempt to avoid the enlarged zone, which comes into force in west London in exactly three weeks' time on the 19 February.

They warn that motorists heading to and from south London will have to make long diversions because of restrictions on crossing two Thames bridges.

Ken Livingstone's decision to extend the zone means patients at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital will have to pay the [pounds sterling]8 levy if they travel during the 7am to 6pm weekday charging hours.

Hammersmith & Fulham Tory councillors have dubbed the toll "Ken's baby tax" because the patients include women giving birth at the hospital.

The zone is being doubled in size by the Mayor in an attempt to improve the environment, speed up buses and tackle what he believes are the worst traffic jams outside central London.

The extension will take in Kensington, Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Notting Hill but the charging hours will end 30 minutes earlier at 6pm to make it easier for theatregoers to get to the West End. Badly congested main bus routes such as Holland Park Avenue and Ladbroke Grove should benefit from being used by 200 fewer vehicles an hour.

But traffic will rise noticeably on the A41 West Cross Route and Chelsea Embankment - both forming part of the new boundary - as well as roads further out, such as Fulham Palace Road and those in Harlesden.

A series of protests are planned, including a go-slow convoy of hundreds of cars in Earl's Court on Saturday 17 February and demonstrations when the widened zone

17 February and demonstrations when the widened zone comes into force two days later.

Greg Hands, Tory MP for Hammersmith & Fulham, which borders the enlarged zone, said: "My constituency has a big problem. Its north-south routes are already conthrough gested. We expect traffic currently going

Kensington and Chelsea to displace partly to the boundary road but we

are also expecting quite a large displacement on to Shepherd's Bush Road and Fulham Palace Road, which is incredibly congested already.

"We are expecting the overall effect to be pretty awful."

Mr Hands pointed out that Transport for London had recently moved its customer care centre to Lillie Road - just outside the new boundary, adding: "Ironically, TfL have saved their staff from having to pay this charge."

Brent council has been warned by TfL to

expect a three to five per cent increase in traffic in Harrow Road, which frequently grinds to a halt because of the amount of cars, bendy buses and bad parking.

The council is also concerned about drivers looking to divert through residential areas and into Harlesden, where it is preparing to tackle illegal parking that frequently causes gridlock. …

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