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Boris axes congestion charge western extension

Just two weeks before a crucial vote in Manchester to decide the fate of the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) proposals there, London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced that western extension of the congestion charge, set-up by his predecessor Ken Livingstone, is likely to be axed in 2010.

Following a consultation that completed on 5 October 2008 and attracted some 28,000 responses, 69% of individuals and businesses responding to the public consultation supported the removal of the Western Extension.

19% said they wanted the extension kept as it is, and a further 12% supported changing the scheme to improve the way it operates.

To remove the western extension to the charge, which covers Kensington and Chelses, the Mayor's transport stratey will need revising, and there will need to be a further consultation on varying the Congestion Charging Scheme Order.

The earliest that the western extension could be removed is 2010, and the existing charges remain until then.

Labour's transport spokesperson Val Shawcross said removing the extension was a: "Foolish and backward step by Boris Johnson. It will lose TfL £70M a year that could have been spent on improving our public transport system and will increase traffic and air pollution in one of the dirtiest and noisiest areas of central London.

"The Mayor has shown his true colours today - petrol blue. The decision to remove the Western extension of the Congestion Charging zone shows that Boris is not interested in making London cleaner or improving life for cyclists and public transport users.

"It is yet another move in favour of the private car at the expense of walking, cycling and public transport," she said.

Mancunians will vote on whether to accept a congestion charging scheme and £3bn in TIF improvements in greater Manchester by December 11.

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