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PARTY POLITICS PREVENTS CONGESTION CHARGE SUCCESS AROUND THE COUNTRY

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Political constraints could prevent local government emulating the success of Ken Livingstone's congestion charge, ...
Political constraints could prevent local government emulating the success of Ken Livingstone's congestion charge, a government advisory body has warned.

The success of the charge has been hailed in the London mayor's report on its first anniversary, which claims it has contributed£50m to the city's economy.

But the Commission for Integrated Transport said the mayor's independent status had been an advantage, and questioned whether a political party would allow one of its representatives to impose such a controversial measure.

London's four-year election cycle had given Mr Livingstone a clear period to develop the charge, a spokesman added.

'It might be quite difficult to do this if you have annual elections and perhaps a small majority,' he said. 'All three main parties were sceptical about the charge initially, but Ken was not affiliated.'

Another factor in London's favour was its lack of competition.

'Elsewhere, if city A imposed a charge, shoppers might simply vote with their feet and go to neighbouring city B,' the spokesman said.

Apart from a very small scheme in Durham, only City of Edinburgh Council has well-advanced charging plans, and it is a year away from a planned referendum.

It has published a plan for a charge zone, which will go to public inquiry in April.

Nottingham City Council hopes to be the first to impose workplace parking charges. The city's first tram is due to open on 9 March in an effort to cut car use.

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