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Extended congestion charge could increase London traffic

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LONDON'S FINANCIAL centre could come to a traffic standstill under plans to extend the congestion charge into west London, City of London leaders warned last week.

The Corporation of London told NCE that thousands of City workers - including bankers, stockbrokers and lawyers - living in affl uent parts of west London would return to their cars and drive into work again.

Joe Weiss, director of highways and transportation at the Corporation of London, told NCE: 'There are 250,000 people in the new zone who will get a 90 per cent discount and they will effectively be able to drive for free into the City of London.' With London mayor Ken Livingstone expected to make a fi nal call on whether to extend the £8 congestion charge zone in October, the Corporation, along with business lobby group London First, said the western extension had the potential to gridlock the existing central London zone. This has seen a 30 per cent drop in congestion since the scheme's launch in February 2002.

They are spearheading a campaign for the enlarged congestion zone to be split into two so that those with a discount in the western zone do not get the discount in the central zone.

Transport for London said that introducing two separate zones would greatly delay the planned launch of the western extension in early 2007 and new software and signage could cost up to £25M.

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