Fleet News

Stop London's slump - 'suspend congestion charge' call

A BUSINESS pressure group says London Mayor Ken Livingstone must suspend the congestion charge for six months after his own advisers predicted an economic downturn in London of £200m to £300m following July's terror attacks.

The Forum of Private Business (FPB,) which represents 25,000 small to medium sized firms, said there is mounting evidence that trading in London is suffering badly since the July bombings. The FPB said a suspension of the congestion charge, which also increased by 60% in July, is critical to attract visitors back to London.

'We understand a major campaign is being launched by the Mayor to promote London which we wholeheartedly support,' said the FPB's London spokesperson Victoria Carson. 'However, no single action would be more effective at attracting more people to London than a suspension of the congestion charge. This would send a tremendously powerful message to the public that London is open and hungry for business.'

The FPB made its remarks as the Mayor's Office revealed that up to 2,000 fewer cars are entering the congestion charge zone each day since July.

Moreover a London Retail Consortium (LRC) report revealed that the attacks had made July sales fall almost 9% on the same period last year - the worst downturn since data began in October 2002.

The LRC report follows figures released by SPSL, the customer research company, which stated that shopper numbers in July 2005 in the congestion charging zone were down 18% year-on-year. Furthermore, SPSL said shopping in central London slumped by 12.6% in July.

The Greater London Assembly is launching an 'Everyone's London' campaign with a series of specially-staged public events and one-off promotions backed by the Mayor, Transport for London and Visit London encouraging Londoners to take pride, and part, in 'the very best that London has to offer'.

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