Boris Johnson signalled an end to the expansion of the London congestion charge zone yesterday as he unveiled a consultation exercise that could scrap the toll's western extension.

The London mayor ruled out extending the charge to the capital's suburbs and admitted that a controversial addition to the scheme could be dropped 18 months after it was introduced. Transport experts have called for a London-wide charge to tackle gridlock in the outer boroughs, but Johnson said that congestion tolls were not the solution.

"I am not going to be having any more congestion charges," he said."What I am determined to make happen is a modal shift towards bicycling and walking, not just in inner London but also in outer London." He accused his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, of failing to consult west London residents properly when the £8-a-day extension was introduced in February 2007. Johnson promised to roll back the extension if there was an "overwhelming" rejection of it by west Londoners.

The consultation will cost £500,000 and will start in September.

The western extension, which cost £96m to implement, could be dismantled by the end of next year, reducing the charging zone to a central area stretching from Buckingham Palace to Tower Bridge.


Dan Milmo

The GuardianTramp

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