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Congestion charges hurt dealers

Automotive retailers in west London could be facing a difficult year in 2007 as plans have been approved to extend the central London congestion charging zone.

From February 19 the zone will cover the areas of Bayswater, Notting Hill, north and south Kensington, High Street Kensington, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Belgravia and Pimlico.

Mahmoud Hamdan, manager at the Alfa Romeo Lombarda Carriage Company in Ladbroke Grove, says: “I am absolutely not happy about this decision. Most of our customers live outside the area of the new congestion zone and I think that they may go elsewhere once the charge comes into force.”

Hamdan believes that one of the biggest problems arises from the fact that most of his customers leave their cars at the dealership for more than one day. “This means that the charge will have to be paid twice,” he says. “We’ve considered the idea of offering to pay it for our customers, but I have no idea how we could recover the extra cost. We may have to increase labour rates, although we already raised these to £89.50 per hour last year.”

Once the extended scheme comes into operation, the charging hours within the zone will be shortened by 30 minutes from 7.00am-6.30pm to 7.00am-6.00pm.

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