Retailers have slammed London’s congestion charging scheme which saw its first anniversary this week.
London mayor Ken Livingstone said delays had been cut 30% since the £5 charge arrived, and traffic volume was down 18%.
But the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said 79% of retailers it asked in a survey reported takings were down over the past year, with 42% blaming the charge.
A quarter of retailers within the zone said they had laid off staff specifically because of the effects of the charge, and a third said they were planning to re-locate because of lower takings.
Plans for a 10-week public consultation on an extension of the London charging scheme westwards to cover most of Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster also met opposition from retailers this week.
London Retail Consortium chairman and MD of John Lewis Partnership’s department stores division Luke Mayhew said independent and authoritative research into the impact on shops was required before the scheme was extended.
He said: “The LRC would oppose any extension of the congestion charging zone or any increase in prices without a longer trial period.”
London looks set to remain the only UK city which levies a congestion charge until at least 2006, but four city councils are assessing similar schemes.
Edinburgh city council’s consultations are the most advanced, and will go to referendum next year.
A spokeswoman said the council was committed to introducing a scheme, but it would be at least two years until it came into effect.
Bristol and Leeds are also consulting over congestion charging - but would not have schemes ready before 2007.
Nottingham is looking at congestion charging but favours a possible workplace-parking levy to target commuters rather than shoppers.