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Western Extension Zone: Local road pricing would be miles better

London First, the influential business organisation representing 300 leading employers, today branded the Western Extension to the congestion charging zone (WEZ) a blunt instrument, outdated in its approach and an inefficient response to the capital’s congestion.

It has called on the Mayor to introduce smaller and better targeted local road pricing schemes to reduce congestion in the areas where it occurs.

London First’s business members support road pricing as a solution to increasing congestion, subject to revenue raised being invested into local transport initiatives. In a survey conducted in the second half of 2006, 68 per cent of members, including large fleet operators such as BT, backed the principle of road pricing, while calling for money raised to be reinvested into local areas to improve public transport, local streets and bottlenecks.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said:

“The Mayor’s approach to tackling west London’s congestion is like using a sledgehammer to pick a lock. A one-size-fits-all congestion charge for the Western Extension Zone is a blunt instrument. If we are serious about unlocking London’s congested roads, local road pricing schemes targeting specific areas’ hotspots would be miles better.

“Without action, congestion will choke London and damage the UK’s economy. Those who signed the No.10 online petition were not presented with a realistic choice. In this instance, a million people can be wrong.”

To combat the capital’s rising congestion, London First is advocating a number of smaller, more tailored and flexible road user charging schemes. Compared to WEZ, road pricing is a far more sophisticated and fair way to deal with congestion. Rather than a flat charge, regardless of 5 minutes or 5 hours spent in the zone, road user charging schemes would charge the driver for their actual contribution to congestion.

Notes to Editors

London First published research on Road User Charging, ‘Getting London to Work’, in December 2006. Download the executive summary

London First is a business membership organisation whose mission is to make London the best city in the world in which to do business. London First undertakes this by mobilising the experience, expertise and enthusiasm of the private sector to develop practical solutions to the challenges facing London. London First also seeks to persuade central and London government to make the investments that London needs in its infrastructure.

London First delivers its activities with the support of 300 of the capital’s major businesses in key sectors such as finance, professional services, property, ICT, creative industries, hospitality and retail. Membership also includes all of London’s higher education institutions as well as further education colleges and NHS hospital trusts. London First members represent 26% of London’s GDP.

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