Added: (Wed May 08 2002)

Pressbox (Press Release) - Westminster City Council today began legal proceedings to challenge the lawfulness of the Mayor of London’s congestion charging Scheme Order. Westminster Council brings this action on the grounds that the rights and interests of local people who may be adversely affected by the scheme have not been sufficiently considered. The legal action seeks the quashing of the congestion charging Order with a view to forcing the Mayor to order a formal Environmental Impact Assessment and a public inquiry into the impacts of the scheme.

The legal action – in the form of Judicial Review - is being pursued following legal advice that the failure to order these steps renders the scheme unlawful. The Mayor was unwilling to enter into mediation. Negotiation having proved unsuccessful, legal proceedings are now the only way to ensure further consideration of the scheme’s adverse impacts in advance of its intended launch in February 2003.

The application is being made on four grounds.

First, the necessary information is lacking. Westminster Council believes that the Mayor failed to obtain all the necessary information to permit him to confirm the Scheme Order.
Second, that the Scheme Order was made in breach of the requirement to obtain and consider an Environmental Impact Assessment. The City Council believes that the significant impact of the scheme on those who live, work and travel within and immediately outside the area covered by the scheme means that an environmental impact assessment was required.
Third, that the Mayor’s decision not to hold a public inquiry was unlawful. The City Council believes that the potential adverse impact on local people, particularly the residents immediately outside the proposed zone boundary, and businesses within the zone boundary is so great that they have a right to a fair and public hearing in the form of an inquiry.
Fourth, that the Mayor failed to act lawfully in accordance with his obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998. The City Council believes that the Mayor had a positive obligation to ensure that the rights of those affected by the scheme were safeguarded and that he has not discharged this obligation.

Commenting on the decision to launch the legal action, Cllr Simon Milton Leader of the Majority Group on the City Council said today: “If the scheme and its impacts had been properly considered this action would not be necessary. The City of Westminster is the London Borough most divided by the scheme boundaries. Residents are separated from their places of worship, their doctors, their shops and their schools and they will have to pay to do what they need to do.

“If we are successful the Mayor will be forced to consider all options for reducing congestion and ways of improving any proposed scheme prior to implementation. We believe that the failure to obtain necessary information and to order an environmental assessment and hold a public inquiry has infringed the rights of over a million people who live and work in Westminster. We believe that Ken Livingstone’s current scheme is flawed in design and implementation”.

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