The independent trade has slammed London mayor Ken Livingstone's proposals to impose a £5 congestion charge on vehicles entering the city centre on the grounds it will unfairly penalise small retailers. Ian Brown of Fulham wholesaler H Brown said: "This just demonstrates how out of touch the planners and policy people are. How on earth are wholesalers expected to make their deliveries to neighbourhood retailers by any means other than road? "Do they seriously expect us to go by public transport?" Wholesale Confectionery & Tobacco Alliance chief executive John Bowden said the charge on vehicles entering central London from 7am to 7pm would cost the average wholesaler £4,000 a year. "The charge will place our members and their customers at a competitive disadvantage to their larger competitors, the out of town superstores." A WCTA spokeswoman said switching deliveries to night time to avoid the charge was not convenient for many retailers, while strict laws prevented lorries from driving through the city centre after dark in any case. Londis chairman Peter Williams said:"This is not good news for independent retailers who are simply being taxed for providing a service to the community." ACS public affairs spokesman James Lowman said: "Wholesalers are operating on tight margins as it is, so it is inevitable that some of the costs will be passed onto retailers." However, small retailers could pick up business selling the credits to drivers from their stores. FWD director general Alan Toft said the charges represented a "mixed blessing" for members. On the one hand they might result in a London levy' imposed by wholesalers delivering into the zone. Conversely, "if the charges actually reduce congestion then in theory delivery costs would reduce". {{NEWS }}