IF RICHARD Barnes MEP thinks that the abolishment of the western extension of the Congestion Charge will be a good move for London (letters, December 12), he should think again. He only has to look at page 18 of the Mayor's own consultation document on ditching the western extension, and he will see that it clearly
says "congestion and pollution will rise". It has to be nothing else than a bad move for London.
Dropping the western extension will mean that there will be less money from congestion charging to improve public transport. As fares increase, traffic congestion will increase because more people will want to use their cars. It often gets overlooked but if the cost of going to, say, Westfield, is more or less equal to driving your car or catching the train or bus it is quite obvious to anyone which mode of transport people will choose. To give readers just one example, last Sunday lunchtime, whilst cycling between Hanwell and the Lido Junction in West Ealing, I counted 56 cars and no less than 39 of them had only one person in them. Not one of them overtook me!
As to the claim of businesses suffering, the answer to this is to make the environment for people to shop in more pleasant. The nicer the environment the more people will spend. The Oxford Street experiment of closing the road to through traffic two weeks ago proves that if you reduce traffic it has a positive effect on encouraging people into shops.
Equally importantly, getting rid of the western extension will put people off from cycling - if they haven't already been put off by the trial of motorbikes in bus lanes that Transport for London and Ealing Council starts from January 1, 2009.