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KEN'S PLANS ATTACKED OVER CONGESTION FEES

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Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has launched his strategy to improve the capital's transport infrastructure which i...
Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has launched his strategy to improve the capital's transport infrastructure which includes controversial congestion charges.
As well as a£5 congestion charge for motorists entering central London - which aims to reduce traffic by 15% - the 10-year strategy envisages a 40% increase in bus, tube and rail capacity by 2011.
Two thirds of expanded rail and Underground capacity would be delivered by new rail schemes. These 'will be taken forward jointly with the government and Strategic Rail Authority'.
But three central London councils called for an independent inquiry into the plans, saying the Greater London Authority had failed to explain how they would be financed.
Kensington & Chelsea LBC leader Merrick Cockell (Con) said: 'Ken Livingstone seems quite comfortable about using congestion charges to price poorer motorists off London's roads. If he is utterly determined to press on with that then we must have concrete improvements in public transport now, not the kind of vague, long-term aspirations set out in this document.'
Conservatives in the GLA said there was a£1.75bn hole in the plans.
The strategy admits: 'It will take a generation to catch up fully on the under-investment of the last generation,' although more immediate improvements were possible in bus services.
The plan was launched on Tuesday with a court battle over control of the tube still looming.
Transport secretary Stephen Byers announced the tube's public/private partnership will go ahead despite objections from Mr Livingstone, though he offered concessions to Transport for London commissioner Bob Kiley on safety.
Mr Byers said the public/private partnership would invest£13bn in modernisation of the tube over the next 15 years.
The mayor confirmed the court challenge to the government's partnership would go ahead later this month. He said: 'I have accepted Bob Kiley's advice to reject London Underground's version of PPP and adopted Mr Kiley's proposals which will deliver more rapid improvements in services and the unified management control essential for safety and efficiency.'
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