London western extension C-charge zone's 'freedom day'


Campaigners who have been calling for an end to London's western congestion charge zone have branded Christmas Eve "freedom day".

Friday was the final day drivers were charged £8-a-day for driving in the zone.

London Mayor Boris Johnson scrapped the zone following a public consultation.

"We are over the moon. It's freedom day for west London," said Gordon Taylor from the West London Residents' Association.

"The imposition of this tax was never justified. There was no congestion reason for it. It was for purely political reasons."

'Dangerous' pollution

Drivers are charged £8-a-day when they enter central London and the western extension zone (WEZ), but from Christmas Day the WEZ will cease to exist.

From 4 January the congestion charge will go up by £2.

Small cars which have low emissions will be exempt from paying the daily toll.

Transport for London (TfL) estimates it will lose £55m a year as a result of scrapping the zone.

People voted in favour of scrapping the zone in a consultation after Mr Johnson made the promise to listen to them during his mayoral campaign.

But a green campaign group has warned of a "dangerous" rise in air pollution.

Simon Birkett, from Campaign for Clean Air, which has threatened to sue the mayor for scrapping the WEZ, said: "We are very concerned the mayor's mitigation measures won't be adequate and the level of dangerous air pollution will rise in this area and that's why we are considering legal action."

Mr Johnson said: "The scrapping of the western extension of the congestion charge zone is democratically the right thing to do."

The WEZ was introduced in 2007 by the former Labour mayor Ken Livingstone, despite people covered by the area voting against the proposal.

Mr Livingstone said the revenue lost by abandoning the WEZ would have to be made up from higher fares on Tubes and buses from January, penalising those who did not drive.

He also said cutting more than £50m "at a time when public services are under severe pressure makes no financial sense".

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