Communities braced for chaos from congestion zone expansion

PUBLISHED: 12:33 31 January 2007 | UPDATED: 14:26 07 September 2010

Ed Thomas Communities on the edge of central London are preparing for chaos when the congestion charge is extended westwards next month. Areas around Paddington, Edgware Road and Westbourne Grove will be included in the zone from February 19. But London m

Ed Thomas

Communities on the edge of central London are preparing for chaos when the congestion charge is extended westwards next month.

Areas around Paddington, Edgware Road and Westbourne Grove will be included in the zone from February 19.

But London mayor Ken Livingstone has created a free route through the zone along Park Lane, Edgware Road itself and the Westway.

Maida Vale residents fear this will bring jams to their doorstep as drivers try to escape the daily £8 toll.

And local traders worry they will suffer from a lack of passing trade.

Haroon Dada, who owns a fabric shop on Edgware Road, said: "It's going to be a nightmare.

"No customers will want to come here anymore because all motorists will be using this same route to avoid paying the congestion charge.

"Thousands more cars will be coming up the Edgware Road and along the Westway.

"Even now it takes me an hour just to get home to Fulham. From next month, it will take double that just to go a few miles. There are going to be big problems."

In Westbourne Grove, traders fear no-one will drive by and stop.

Angelika Stratakou, owner of Marianna's Café in Chepstow Road, said: "We are going to lose business when the zone is extended because fewer people will be using the roads around here.

"It's expensive enough to park - so charging people £8 just to drive is going to make things so much worse."

Zahid Zafer, manager of Butler's Newsagent in Great Western Road, added: "Because people will be charged to come out on the roads they won't stop off and shop.

"It's definitely going to affect trade in the whole area.

"People will instead use the buses and tubes but they are already overcrowded. So the problems will just get worse."

But congestion charge organisers Transport for London said it expected the free routes along the A202 and A40 Westway, as well as the boundary roads, to be "largely unaffected" from February 19.

A spokeswoman said: "The concerns raised are similar to those that were aired about the boundary route for the original congestion charging zone.

"These proved unfounded - monitoring of air quality on the boundary has confirmed that the effects of emissions from congestion charging-related traffic changes have been broadly neutral. Within the zone the most harmful emissions have fallen by up to 15 per cent.

"TfL expects that traffic levels on the free route will be broadly the same as before the introduction of the western extension.

"The two free routes, both the A202 and A40 Westway, are essential to the overall function of the scheme.

"The provision of the free routes means vehicles can avoid large diversions around London - thus allowing for the easy transportation of goods and services, such as retail deliveries, between North and South London."

Local MP Karen Buck has fought for the free route to be extended to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington and Sainsbury's in Ladbroke Grove.

She is advising anyone with serious concerns about the congestion charge extension to contact her at her constituency surgery. I want to be aware of people's problems so I can channel them through to TfL," she said.

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