London Mayor Ken Livingstone has announced plans to extend the charging zone into west London, effectively doubling the area and covering boroughs such as Notting Hill, Chelsea and Victoria.
Although the charge is limited to the capital, research has shown that companies from the whole of the UK have drivers affected by the charge.
Debbie Morgan, service delivery manager at Lex Vehicle Leasing, one of Britain’s largest contract hire firms, said fleets and their suppliers face added costs, overheads and administration as a result of a new charging zone.
She said: ‘The new zone will generate more penalty notices, which will mean fleets having to put more effort into processing them.
‘We still get a large number of people who fail to pay so it will mean more overheads and more administration.
‘Costs will also increase. We work in partnership with National Car Rental which has a number of branches in the zone, so customers needing to collect a vehicle from a branch inside the extended zone will see about £5 added to their bill.’
Local councils and residents living in the proposed zone have also criticised the new charging scheme.
Merrick Cockell, leader of The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said: ‘The tube is falling apart and Ken Livingstone wants to chuck £120 million at a money-losing congestion charging scheme.
‘The original congestion charging scheme is still in its infancy and its impact has not been properly assessed. The Mayor’s desire to extend the zone defies all reason. We call on him to think again.’
Livingstone announced the new plans in his revised Transport Strategy published last week.
It follows a consultation involving the public, businesses and stakeholders and the revision only affects the section of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy which covers congestion charging. No other sectors have been updated.
However, Livingstone has said he would consider bringing forward the end of daily charging hours from 6.30pm to 6pm.