Countdown to 'Western Extension Freedom Day’

Just days until congestion zone extension is scrapped

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Removal of the Western Extension

Mayor of London

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Christmas Day has been dubbed ‘WEZ Freedom Day’ as the cameras will finally be made be obsolete from Dec 25 - after three years of hard campaigning from H&F Council and prominent residents’ groups.

December 24 will be the last day that the WEZ operates after the Mayor of London listened to the results of three public consultations - which all favoured scrapping the scheme. Road markings will be blasted from the streets and signs dismantled over the Christmas holidays.

Gordon Taylor, Chairman of the West London Residents Association, “Christmas Day is Freedom Day for west London. The abolition of the extension will mean the dismantling of the invisible Berlin Wall which has divided communities and hit businesses and freedom to move again without paying the exorbitant tax on drivers. What a great Christmas present for us all.”

65 per cent of the 13,000 people who responded to the third and final consultation wanted the extension scrapped and the daily toll - which is set to rise to £10 - will now only affect central London as the zone is stripped back to its original size.

Mayor Johnson said: “The people of west London had the extension unfairly foisted upon them and they have now voiced their antipathy for it loud and clear on several occasions. After negotiating a testing course of several legal hurdles, I am delighted to be able to confirm that it will now be removed by Christmas.

“It will be vanquished, annihilated and obliterated, with road markings literally blasted from the earth over the festive period.”

After it was created in February 2007, the WEZ quickly became known as West London’s Berlin Wall - due to the invisible barrier it created between neighbourhoods. Transport for London (TfL) has predicted it will lose around £55 million but critics point-out that the extension failed in its central aim of reducing congestion in west London.

Before the extension was added, a TfL study showed H&F had the most congested roads in London. The figures revealed a mind numbing 7.6 million hours lost in traffic, compared to 6.9 million in neighbouring Kensington & Chelsea. More than three years later, there is no evidence that the roads in the borough have become less congested. H&F Council has consistently campaigned against the extension ever since it was proposed.

Prominent anti-WEZ campaigner David Tarsh, of Stonor Road, says: “The idea that one improves traffic flow by cordoning off an area and charging motorists to enter is absurd. Traffic initially flowed in the newly created central zone not because of the charging regime but because simultaneously lights were rephrased and roadworks were completed at the very moment when London’s roads were least congested.

“The abolition of the WEZ is a moment for instant celebration but the really wonderful Christmas present will be the revival of commerce in the capital.”

December 13, 2010