|Council Protest over Congestion Charge Delay|
Labour MP Andy Slaughter also criticises Boris
Hammersmith & Fulham Council appears once again to be at odds with London Mayor Boris Johnson as it voices a protest over a possible future delay in scrapping the western extension of the congestion charge.
The council says it is "urging Boris Johnson to re-think" his plans. Mayor Johnson announced his intention to ditch the extension last November after 67% of residents and 86% of businesses said they wanted it removed.
At the time the Mayor said he would take the necessary legal steps - which could include two more consultations - to scrap the extension by spring 2010.
However there are now conflicting signals from his office over his plans. Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor's transport adviser, said this week: " We always wanted to remove it at the earliest possible opportunity but it was aspirational and these are difficult times."
He added that there was no suggestion that that policy had
been dropped, but details of the date were being finalised.
On his Twitter site, Boris Johnson said: " Let's be crystal clear about this. The WEZ will be removed by the end of next year. Amen." He blamed delays in implementing the plan on "tedious bureaucratic hoops".
This delay however, has had a strong response from Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Deputy Leader Councillor Nicholas Botterill, says: " During these tough economic times it is essential that The Mayor of London pushes on and consigns this tax on commerce to the dustbin of history as soon as possible.
" Residents and traders need relief from the credit crunch now - not some time in the next few years. The Western Extension is a millstone around the neck of local businesses and any delay in scrapping it will contribute to more local traders going out of business."
Labour MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush, Andy Slaughter has also publicly criticised Boris Johnson’s U-turn on the Western Extension of the Congestion Charge.
He says: " Many of my constituents, including traditional Labour voters, voted for Boris Johnson because they, like me, oppose the Charge. If you live on the boundary of the extended Western Zone you get all the headaches of extra traffic but still have to pay if you want to go to take your car off the drive.
" Johnson ran on a clear platform that the Charge must go – so many were surprised when he then held a long and wasteful consultation. Residents and businesses called overwhelmingly for the charge to be scrapped: but after initially paying lip-service to their views he has now gone back on his word.
" My constituents could be forgiven for thinking that they have been the victims of a cynical trick designed to win an election."
Andy Slaughter also claims: " Residents are suffering the effects of disjointed and disunited local government from the Tories. The Tory Mayor says one thing, Tory councilors say another, and Tory MPs and candidates stay quiet for fear of offending anyone. This may seem to them to be a smart way to win elections, but it's no way to run a city or a country."
Hammersmith and Fulham Council is also at odds with Mayor Johnson over the proposed Tideway Tunnel, nicknamed the super sewer. The council has consistently opposed the project, but the Mayor has strongly supported it, and is urging the council to do the same.
September 28, 2009