Congestion charge zone enlarged

The London congestion charge will be extended from today, with areas in the west of the capital now being affected by the levy.

As the government strives to reduce traffic build-up in the city, Kensington, Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Notting Hill, Bayswater, Belgravia and Pimlico will all now be in the congestion charge zone.

There has been a mixed response to the development, with London TravelWatch saying that the extended charge will "help keep London moving" but disputing the decision to shorten the hours at which the charge applies.

"The central London congestion charge has been successful and we welcome, and support, this extension," said Brian Cooke, chairman of London TravelWatch.

"However, we do not agree with the decision to shorten the congestion charge operating hours to 6pm, as we are concerned that it will mean greater congestion in the early evening, affecting bus and taxi services in the evening, when commuters are trying to get home from work."

The Freight Transport Association criticised the move, saying that commercial vehicles should have been excluded from the scheme.

It is hoped that the congestion charge will cut traffic in areas it covers by between 15 and 20 per cent.

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