SOME commuters may have no choice but to pay the new expanded congestion charge when travelling into Battersea from Earls Court, borough councillors have warned.

Drivers approaching Battersea from Earls Court will have no choice but to enter the zone because it is not possible to turn right on to Battersea Bridge or Albert Bridge.

There is currently no discount on the £8 daily toll for people living close to Battersea Bridge.

The Tory controlled Wandsworth council had asked the Mayor of London to designate part of north Battersea as a buffer zone - which would entitle residents to a 90 per cent discount - but this was refused.

Yesterday was the first day of the expanded congestion charge which has been hailed as a success by Ken Livingstone.

Although official figures have yet to be released, Transport for London said there was "anecdotal evidence" that traffic congestion in west London was down yesterday.

However, some have criticised the findings pointing out the expansion was launched the same week as many schools were on half-term meaning there would already be less traffic.

A TfL spokesman said: "Initial monitoring has shown that traffic moving on the boundary roads and the free routes through the zone is at similar levels to before charging, with no congestion hotspots.

"Indications inside the zone are that traffic levels are down to the levels expected."

TfL had predicted traffic levels in west London would drop by 10 to 15 per cent and reduce congestion in the zone by at least 15 per cent.

The spokesman would not reveal how many passengers had used the new west London bus services.

Mr Livingstone said the first morning rush hour under the scheme was a success.

"Traffic flowed freely inside the extended zone, on its boundaries and the through route," he said.

"The zone was, until now, one of the most congested areas in the UK and today's indications are that traffic levels have been reduced to the levels expected as a result of the scheme."

The zone has roughly doubled in size and the £8-a-day charge will now include areas such as Kensington, Chelsea, Notting Hill, Bayswater, Brompton, Belgravia and Pimlico.

The hours for the congestion charge scheme have also changed and will finish half an hour earlier at 6.30pm.

Opponents say they have been ignored by the mayor and claim that two-thirds of residents oppose the new boundaries.