Londoners have spoken and the Mayor has listened 27 November 2008. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has announced that the results of a public consultation on the western extension mean he will begin the legal processes required to remove the Western Extension of the Congestion Charging zone. Over two thirds of Londoners and businesses responding to the consultation on the future of the zone have said they want it scrapped.
The Mayor promised to be accountable and to follow the democratic will of Londoners, and abiding by the results of a consultation was a key manifesto pledge after the zone was introduced under the previous administration in spite of massive local opposition.
The five-week informal public consultation attracted nearly 28,000 responses and overall 67 per cent of individual respondents and 86 per cent of businesses responding to the public consultation supported the removal of the zone. Nineteen per cent stated that they wanted the extension kept as it is, and 12 per cent supported changing the scheme to improve the way that it operates.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “During the election I promised Londoners a genuine consultation on the future of the extension. I promised that I would respect their opinions and I promised that if clear support for a particular way forward emerged then I would act on that opinion. Londoners have spoken loud and clear, and the majority of people have said that that they would like the scheme scrapped. As a Mayor that keeps his promises I am instructing Transport for London to begin work on the process of a formal consultation on the removal of the Western Extension.
“One thing every body should be assured of is my determination to make it easier for Londoners to get around our great city. Transport for London is working on a series of measures aimed at easing congestion and smoothing traffic flow, which include rephasing traffic signals and cracking down hard on the chaos caused by badly-planned road works. They are also setting up a task force with external experts to review further ways in which traffic flows can be smoothed. Londoners must be able to get around our city without undue delay. I am committed to helping them do this as quickly, safely and cheaply as possible.”
Alongside the consultation, Transport for London (TfL) conducted a survey of the attitudes of 2,000 Londoners and 1,000 London-based businesses to gauge how representative the consultation responses were. Removing the Western Extension was the preferred option of 41 per cent of members of the public against 30 per cent in favour of keeping it. Half of businesses surveyed wanted the extension scrapped and 23 per cent supported keeping it. Fifteen per cent of members of the public and 14 per cent of businesses said they would change the way the scheme operates.
A quarter of stakeholders supported the removal of the Western Extension. Around half were in favour of keeping the scheme although some made their support conditional on other changes. A third supported changing the way that the scheme operates.
A draft revision to the Mayor’s Transport Strategy reflecting his intention to remove the Western Extension will be the subject of a 12-week statutory public and stakeholder consultation scheduled for summer 2009. Following this, TfL would also need to consult the public and stakeholders on a variation to the Congestion Charging Scheme Order to formally remove the Western Extension.
The Western Extension cannot be removed until these statutory consultation procedures have been concluded and the Mayor has taken into account the views expressed in the consultations and decided whether or not to confirm his decision. The earliest that the extension could be removed is spring 2010.