Congestion in the West End

Reporter: Peter Lathan

Dateline: 2nd March, 2003

The row over congestion charging in central London is just one more in a string of complaints which have surfaced in the last few months about the state of London's West End. Whilst I am sympathetic to those who are now having to pay £5 a day to bring their cars to work (in addition, of course, to the sky-high parking charges most have to put up with), I can't help but think that the fuss being made in some quarters is designed more to "get at" Ken Livingstone than to improve the West End.

A West End in which you don't have to take your life in your hands every time you try to cross the road? Bloody marvellous! How many times have you come out of a theatre and had to stand crushed together with others in a crowd bigger than you get at some football matches just to get cross the road? Far too often, I would suggest.

And as for the cry that it will reduce the number of people going to West End theatres... Well, how many people actually drive into the West End for a night out? You'd spend longer looking for a parking space than watching the show - and having a meal afterwards!

The critics can't have it both ways: clean up the West End to make it more attractive to visitors and allow the world and his wife to drive around? Not a chance!

The West End can be unpleasant and perhaps it does need a Giuliani to clean it up, but reducing the amount of traffic is a good start.