Manchester City Council

Transport and Congestion again, and again, and again....

After a couple of sorties into the problems of congestion on Britain's inter-city railways it's back to congestion closer to home. Not just congestion on the roads either. Yesterday I took a train from Bolton to Manchester at around 10.20 am, and even at that time the train was full with people standing. I think we are still struggling to get over to people that at its heart, the Transport Innovation Fund proposals are not about congestion charging but about dealing with problems like this - getting more carriages on trains particularly at peak times, more buses serving more destinations more regularly, better buses, more trams serving more destinations able to carry twice as many people. Better train, tram, and bus stations. Real-time information. Double the amount of Park-and-Ride and integrated ticketing and timetabling supported by a Manchester smart card. We will need congestion charging to help us tackle congestion on our roads and to help pay for all these transport improvements but only when the improvements are in place.

Earlier this week a series of draft proposals were announced about who might be exempt from paying the charge, proposals that will be part of the consultation due to start in July and run into the autumn. Today Manchester Council's Executive Committee will be considering where we are up to on TIF, and later in the week, on Friday, all of this will be discussed at the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities Executive Committee. One of the things they will have to decide is the consultation process and in particular how we will judge public opinion at the end of the consultation process. Many people have been calling for a referendum. In general I'm not in favour of referendums because they undermine our system of representative democracy. Every year the City Council makes lots of decisions many of which have far more impact on our citizens lives than the proposed congestion charge. We couldn't possibly have a referendum on all of them and that's how our system works - we elect representatives to make those decisions, and if we don't like the decisions they make we vote them out.

So, is the £3 billion we propose to spend on public transport and the consequent congestion charge any different? I've come to the conclusion that it is because we don't have an indirectly or directly elected body for Greater Manchester that has the power to make this decision and ten different councils making potentially ten different decisions is the road to chaos.

I'm prepared to back a Greater Manchester wide referendum on TIF, after the consultation process has concluded, as long as all ten Councils in Greater Manchester agree in advance that they will be bound by the result.

Make a comment

There are 70 responses to “Transport and Congestion again, and again, and again....”

  1. Max Dutton Says:

    At last! Someone who believes in democracy and is prepared, via a referendum, to abide by the public's decision.

  2. Gary Sefton Says:

    Absolutley brilliant at last some comon sense, this issue can only be resolved by a referendum and good news for our local neighbouring councils whose residents wil also be heard. Let the votes be heard.......

  3. Chris McKee Says:

    We don't vote people in so we can become puppets, bendable at your will. And why should public money be used to fund improvements in privately run public transport. Companies like Virgin and First don't run the trains and buses for the good of their health, they run it for cold hard cash; and they make billions from it every year.
    They should be treated like any other company and pay for more carriages and more buses from their own profits, not johnny cash cow the motorists pocket.

  4. L Campbell Says:

    Absolultely agree wholeheartedly with a referendum so that the residents of Greater Manchester can have their say whether there should be a congestion charge or not.

  5. A. Shields Says:

    Totally to be the public's decision. Where I live there is at least a 20 minute walk to bus stop (and only one bus in service at present which is inadequate. Will more buses, trams and trains be available? and will all the transport fares be affordable to the local residents.

  6. Bob Youel Says:

    A Greater Manchester Wide referendum is, in my opinion, a canny way of discounting the 'no' votes from some Councils. Any way, forget Greater Manchester Councils and electors. What about road users like me who come into the zones from outside Greater Manchester? You can stick your public transport improvements. Just lay off road users and look at real ozone damage like the gasses cows let off! If public transport is in so much demand it would fund itself. You do not think I come into your dull city for my benefit do you? My skills are portable and can be taken elsewhere. You set up a transport system with debt you have to repay and then explain in years to come why the City has a skills shortage, falling investment and a declining business, retail and leisure sector. The day your charges come in I'm back to the gas rigs and nuke power stations off shore - no taxes at all then!

  7. Shaunyboy Says:

    Will commuters from outside greater manchester get a say?

  8. 23 Skidoo Says:

    Is the propsed £3bn spend dependent upon a congestion charge being implemented? I've yet to hear if this is the case, although to be fair I've been a bit busy lately and haven't had time to read up on everything.

  9. tony (crumpsall) Says:

    Why not let all the people of g/m pay,not just car drivers?get the bus companies to give us a good safe servis then we will use it.we need armed police on buses.

  10. Alan Salter Says:

    I don't know what all the fuss is about today. The story was in the Oldham Chronicle, Surveyor Magazine and Route One magazine a week ago. ...or did I dream that Richard said: "We have not ruled out a referendum" at the press conference at Rochdale Town Hall?

  11. Nigel in Bury Says:

    Your insistence on a binding agreement on all 10 authorities in a referendum looks like a last roll of the dice to get round the fatal obstacle of AGMA failing to get a two thirds majority for TIF if/when Bolton's referendum goes against you. If you want that ploy to work you'd better have the guts to use the Edinburgh referendum question wording, otherwise this U-turn is going to be utterly transparent. A weasel words referendum question to produce a false result is simply putting you and your fellow members into the electorate's crosshairs. Will you agree to using the Edinburgh wording?

  12. Jim Gibson Says:

    Despite the democratic arguments for a referrendum the public will never vote for the congestion charge and what will be perceived and promoted by objectors as a simply another tax. Sound bites will barely move beyond this headline. The Greater Manchester Authorities and their democratically elected leaders need to recognise this fact, avoid a referrendum and promote with vigour the clear benefits of TIF and the regeneration it will bring. People have to be made aware of the implications of continuing the limited investment in our transport network, the fantasic and unprecedented opportunity presented by TIF and, at all costs, avoid a public vote. After all,if the big decisions were put to referendum we would be hanging criminals, out of Europe, never in Iraq.......well you know what I mean! Be strong in leadership and firm of vision - dont use a referrendum - therein lies failure and non investment.

  13. mark Says:

    it depends on how the referenduum question is to be asked ?? and if the ballot is delt with an independant company and not done and handled by agma or manchester city council
    as the the question do you want a congestion charge is the only question that needs to be asked non of the normal do you want improvments to local transports which means a congestion charge which will load the question and answer
    and as long and agma and sir richard dont fiddle with the outcome or change the gaol post like they did with the original 10 councils had to agree with the CON taz charge then richard and roger changed it to the majority come on richard be a man and lets have one question do youas a person living in and around manchester want to pay a tax or pay for the right to drive on manchester roads nothing about public transport improvements in the question set for any referendum bea man for once not a stooge or highway man like thatchers poll tax stop the toll tax and CON charge

  14. Paritosh Desai Says:

    A referrendum is a must. However, I hope the questions are simple such as 'are you in favour of a congestion charge as proposed by the Council?' or 'is the congestion charge levy just proper and valid?'
    To most people, the congestion charge is just another form of tax, and at that totally discriminatory! Why should the people resident within the boundaries of M60 not pay the tax?
    Why should disabled people, people going to hospitals or motorcyclists be exempt? Dont they use the roads? Dont they cause congestion? Dont we all know about the rampant fraudulent use of Disabled Driver car stickers?
    Also it is one of the widest zonal congestion area any where in the world! If the Manchester Council is so bothered about congestion, why has it been giving planning permission to all those new multistoried buildings? Every multistorey appartment/office block built within the inner ring road contributes atleast 200 cars! Or is the Council trying indirectly to fill up those empty city centre flats by coercing the middle to lower income people into moving into the city?
    As an alternative, why has Manchester not bothered to develop satellite facilities where offices/businesses can be set up?
    Why does Manchester not introduce excellent park and ride schemes such as Nottingham, York and many other cities?
    Also why should one have to pay more to enter M60 and less to enter the inner ring road, where arguably the congestion is maximum? Why should one have to pay to exit the zone?
    Why are the residents within M60 exempt from any charge? Won't they have a free pass to roam anywhere within the city without paying a penny? Should they not be charged a nominal daily tax similar to London?
    Will this charge be valid if one were to contest it on the basis of breach of one's basic right to mobility? Look before you leap. And certainly think twice, no thrice or may be as many times as it takes before implementing this unjust system. It cost one councillor his seat, it will cost Labour a council, if the politicians continue to ignore the voting public and continue to live in their ivory towers!

  15. Future Transport Says:

    I strongly agree with Mr Gibsons response below. A referendum on this issue will be suicidal. The media would offer absolutely no support to a pro congestion chare movement, in fact they have already helped the anti-charge movement a great deal with their shock headlines and the selective information they choose to publish. In terms of publicity and advertising, the pro-charge group wouldn’t stand a chance against the endless funds of Peel Holdings and their Momentum Group, and we all know why Peel are so against the charge.
    You only have to see some of the questions posed by the public to Howard Bernstein on and some of the utterly inaccurate comments posted in the MEN and on their website, to see how little people know about the TiF package and the proposals. A large number of the population of Greater Manchester will be voting on something that they know very little about, that’s if they vote at all.
    We certainly should not pose a referendum question in the way suggested below. The congestion charge has EVERYTHING to do with public transport improvements, that’s what all this is about!

  16. James Says:

    A refferendom is a very noble idea if (and indeed if) all the councils in the area agree to abide by the decision.

    The important thing is that people who vote in any referendum actually LOOK at the proposals, rather than attempt to characterise it as "just another tax" which it is not.

    I unfortunately fear that if this goes to a referendum, it will be voted down by people who don't understand the issue.

  17. David Ottewell Says:

    Regarding "Future Transport"'s comments about the media:

    The Manchester Evening News' official position is that we believe congestion charging is a price worth paying for £3bn of public transport improvements. This does not, and should not, prevent us from pursuing stories which reflect both good and bad aspects of the plan.

    If it did, we'd be rightly criticised.

    If anyone has any specific concerns about particular stories they are welcome to contact me by email or through

    It's worth noting that when a referendum on congestion charging was held in Edinburgh, the local media was very much against the proposals.

    David Ottewell
    Chief reporter
    Manchester Evening News

  18. Future Transport Says:

    Paritosh, you begin your comment by clearly stating that you oppose the congestion charge and THEN proceed to ask all the questions about it? How did you come to the conclusion that you oppose the charge when, judging by the questions you ask, you clearly know nothing about it?
    Visit GMPTE's Future Transport website and learn the facts

  19. jonathan smith Says:

    Future transport says that in a referendum the vast majority will be voting without knowing enough about the scheme. True ! You won't tell us ! How much are the set up costs ? What will be the projected annual running cost ? Who will pay for and who will own the new buses and trams ? Tell us the truth and then let us decide please.

  20. David Bernstein Says:

    Nice try Sir Richard,you cannot get the motorist to believe you so now you are trying to con bus and rail travellers into believing you.It has been stated time and time again you cannot add extra coaches,so why are you saying you can.Already rail companies have said this.Come on Sir Richard,Tell the truth and stop going back on your statements.

  21. S Kapur Says:

    I am a little confused. We are talking about a possible solution, but a possible solution to what problem? To say we want to reduce congestion is like saying we want to reduce world hunger. You have to be specific about your goals. Otherwise how do you know if you are looking at the right solution?

    Are we trying to reduce the amount of traffic (cars, vans and HGVs) in rush hour, or just the number of cars or just the number of cars where the driver could use a realistic and affordable public transport option? They are all very different problems with very different solutions and consequences. The phrase 'sledge hammer to crack a nut' comes to mind.

    I believe that the decision makers have a moral obligation to adopt a more sophisticated approach to problem solving.


    S Kapur

  22. Tim Willis Says:

    The failure of the coucils to agree prior to the bid on how the electorate were to voice their opinions is what is behind the mess that AGMA is now in, surely if we believe in democracy then those that have been elected on manifesto promises to oppose the scheme must do so to their upmost ie withold the powers that AGMA would require otherwise they are not fulfilling promises made to their electors as Roger Jones found out this is a very dangerous thing to do. In my opinion the right to use the highway free of interference and charge should be absolute.It is wrong that these bodies can saddle us with a debt for 30 years for something that may be very damaging to the city but would be impossible to remove even if we found that it was destroying the city centre that everybody is trying to protect and improve.

  23. Ace Riley Says:

    Could it be just yet another badly thought out plan that when these transport companies took over our transport system they didnt have enough money to invest in the network and now years after the government/local politicians want to get the ratepayers into even more debt so that directors and invcesters in these companies make even more money from the taxpayer/ratepayers.lets bring back our bus/transport system back into public ownership then i wouldnt mind us getting in debt,but why should the ratepayer/taxpayer fund private companies.let the companies borrow money from their banks and pay for the system themselves..i know the clownhall and all its idiots will have a smart answer for this posting.

  24. Sir Reg Ringpull Says:

    "Yesterday I took a train from Bolton to Manchester at around 10.20 am, and even at that time the train was full with people standing"
    As a politician you have a way with words. As a cynic I know that the statement is different from the "train was packed and I could not get a seat".
    So just why were people standing? Dirty seats - They all had heameroids? The train before was cancelled and there was twice as many people as normal?

  25. somethingamiss Says:

    "Future Transport Says:
    In terms of publicity and advertising, the pro-charge group wouldn’t stand a chance against the endless funds of Peel Holdings and their Momentum Group"

    Hold on isn't £3 million going towards the "consultation" process now? prime time tv ads? soap stars? Flash adverts on premium websites! Far more than Peel have to play around with.

    Then after all this propaganda (IMHO) and only then will the referendum take place!

    I too feel the referendum change of heart may simply be because 3 councils are firmly against the con charge and this alone will stop the outer ring. Bolton are having a referendum anyway and Salford are uncertain. So tying all 10 in and now allowing a referendum screams of a last ditch attempt to me.

  26. Alan Kelly Says:

    This proposal is dead in the water because I can clearly see that you have realised that even if there is a 7 council yes vote you cannot force the remaining three councils to install the charging infrastructure. Your apparent change of heart for a referendum is not out of consideration for the feelings or wishes of Mancunians but shows you up for the person you are. This is a last ditch attempt to get approval for a scheme through the back door. To make it binding on all other councils is the only way to railroad thorugh a decision which cannot be enforced and GMPTA, Manchester City Council and AGMA know it. Your politics are shabby, your methods are suspect and you have been found wanting.

    Accept that the congestion charge is a tax on the working population. Chastise Gordon Brown for threatening us that we won't get investment if we don't agree to the charge in what is clearly a statement blackmailing the population of Greater Manchester.

  27. Bobtiltd Says:

    Future transport :
    Paritosh seems to have a reasonable knowledge from the comments.
    Where do you get the idea that any anti charge campaign can match the huge amount of tax payers money that you will spend promoting the proposal?

  28. Mark Gordon Says:

    I think it is sad that the MEN is in the position of giving an opinion on the matter rather than remaining completely neutral.

    I would like to know exactly how much public money has been paid to the MEN for all of it's TIF advertising. The MEN as a business can hardly take a neutral stance when it is reliant on advertsing from the AGMA.

    I also thin it is abhorrent to state that a referendum should not be held because people are unaware of the facts. The reason that the majority of people are unaware of the facts is that the full facts are not being released. Nobidy has released the split of funding by borough, the costings of each inividual plan, the consequences of failure to deliver projects on time etc.

    Is it any wonder people sit there and dream up conspiracy theories when the are being drip fed the facts.

    I would also like to know if Roger Jones is in receipt of any public money now that he has been voted out as a councillor.

  29. Future of Our City Says:

    Mark - any congestion charge levied against people travelling to and from town during peak times during the week will only be put in place after GMPTE and the AGMA authorities have begun implementing £3b worth of public transport improvements.

    The public transport improvements cannot begin to be put in place until a congestion charge has been agreed.

    The two are inextricably linked and both should feature in any referendum question.

  30. Future Transport Says:

    Bobtiltd says:
    Where do you get the idea that any anti charge campaign can match the huge amount of tax payers money that you will spend promoting the proposal?
    Oh i don't know, could it be because they are backed by a company worth several hundred million pounds (if not £1b+) who will aim to do all they can to protect their numerous business interests in the Salford/Trafford area? The same group canvassing local opinion in the ward of Roger Jones with carefully worded questions in the run up to the local elections? Surely not!

  31. michael Says:

    if manchester waht it ok but not the rest of us what about the low paid worker traviling to trafford park what will happen if everybodey stars work latter

  32. Alan Kelly Says:

    Future Transport...I find your comments interesting but inaccurate. The actual state of this charge is that some areas will get improved public transport but other areas, specifically Trafford Park, will not get the improvements and will be charged 50%. How much clearer is it that this is a flawed process. If all the improvements are not in place then it should be 100% reduction.

    I am still waiting for someone to provide me a satisfactory answer to the argument: How can you support a charge designed to reduce congestion which relies upon the congestion being present in order to pay the loan back? It is simply flawed economics and either, there will be no change in the congestion - why bother? - or congestion will be cured - we cannot service the loan.

  33. bicolouredpythonrocksnake Says:

    I was astonished to read in the M.E.N. today that the council wishes to close Lloyd Street to traffic and build a car park for the town hall complex under the Peace Garden.

    Coming as it does at a time when the council is insisting that everyone should use public transport and even pay to drive into the city, this sounds a lot like "Do as we say, not as we do".

    You couldn't make it up.

  34. Roy Miller Says:

    Having read the GMPTE website have have noticed the current estimated daily charge will £3.60 per commuter (obviously more for many and less for others) if you calculate this by 252 working days a year the average commuter will pay £907.20 per year. It is a lot of money which people cannot afford. The irony the government say they cannot afford it either.

  35. stuart small Says:

    I tell you if this congestion charges comes to the whole of greater manchester shopping towns they all be ghost towns and we do not want that. I certain it should be laid to rest, and buried.

  36. Rush Says:

    So now we hear from the press that the labour group may want their own free car park under the peace gardens and all in the name of democracy! What happened to the great improvements in public transport that the TIF will bring are these not good enough for our political representives. If public transport is not going to be able to get 96 councillors to meetings that are planned in advance, how can members of the public expect it to work for them and leave their cars at home??

  37. For the TiF Says:

    Alan – I would not have thought that the AGMA authorities are expecting the revenue made from congestion charges alone to cover the entire cost of repaying the TiF bid. Rather, they are expecting the improvements in the region’s transport system to lead to an increase in investment to the area, which will ultimately lead to increase money for the Authorities to use to repay the loan.

    The potential for economic growth following the transport improvements is massive. The whole of the Greater Manchester Area will essentially be ‘opened up’ allowing businesses more choice when it comes to location (businesses located in Oldham, Rochdale, Wigan etc, would be able to attract a workforce and custom from a much wider area). Fewer vehicles on the road will also mean that those businesses that have to use the regions highways and byways will be able to do so more efficiently.

    Above all though, in my opinion, it really is a case of the following points

    At the moment congestion in the city during peak times is pretty awful and unless something is done it isn’t going to get any better.

    Public transport in the region is in desperate need of improvement and expansion.

    Doing nothing is not an option – might be an option for now but what about 10, 15 or 20 years from now?

    We have (potentially) at our disposal £3b to spend on public transport improvements in the area.

    It does come at a price, that price being the congestion charge.

    In an ideal world the AGMA authorities would be able to implement the improvements without the charge but that isn’t the case so it boils down to the lesser of two evils:

    Implementing the improvements but having the charge

    Not having the charge and forgoing a great opportunity to improve the way in which people of Greater Manchester travel.

  38. Future Transport Says:

    The front page headline featured in the MEN earlier this week regarding the Town Hall members car park is a non-story. It has been dragged up to add further fuel to the fire.
    The story is about a masterplan for the restoration of our most treasured buildings and NOT about an underground car park. For all we know, this could have been an idle suggestion made by a member that has gone into the minutes.

  39. Dan Says:

    The suggestions on this page that the proposals will be downed merely because people do not understand it are ludicrously patronising. If the loan repayment plans were published then nobody would have to expect, speculate or imagine. The quotes regarding the car park came from Coun Bernard Priest and are quite frankly preposterous(not merely debate kindling).

  40. Chris Hyde Says:

    Sir Richard will you have to pay the congestion charge?

  41. Alan Kelly Says:

    For the TIF….I think you are deluding yourself in your response to me. The evidence of the only other congestion charge in this country shows that business have actually declined in the area where the charge covers. You have no real proof to the contrary and therefore your assertion that the potential for economic growth is a guess or patronising. For me to continue to work inside the zone will mean I will require an immediate pay rise of £1300 to accomodate my extra expense.

    Thank you for the indication that WHEN the loan cannot be paid back by the charge then the bill will then fall onto local businesses and users of public transport to stump up the rest of the cash. That is exactly how I expected this to pan out.

    Congestion during peak times is not pretty awful. In fact, I do not suffer any congestion on my route. I travel around Manchester and I can see that the most congested routes are the routes that have been interfered with by traffic calming measures. I work 2 miles outside the city centre and will end up paying £5 for the privilege. I note that this is a charge on the suburbs to improve Manchester City Centre. Thanks, but no thanks. Let Manchester City Council raise its own revenue to improve its services.

    Here are some options which will cure the congestion bearing in mind that your own figures reveal that traffic inward to the city is falling. Synchronise traffic lights to work together. Make certain routes red routes between certain times where there is absolutely no stopping on them. Get rid of bus routes to make road two lanes instead of one. Make all public transport totally free. Make certain red traffic signal junctions give way for traffic turning left. Etc, etc, etc.

    TIF, the problem is that you are not telling us the truth in respect of congestion and it is apparent to everyone who drives to work in the morning. You are not telling the truth in your documentation and questionnaires. You moved the AGMA goalposts from unanimous to majority. Your support for a referendum is now seen for what it is, namely a method of imposing this charge on a local authority that you have no power to impose it on.

  42. James Says:

    It is *not* patronising to assume that people do not understand the proposals, because many of the voices I have heard from both the Pro and Anti lobby (and on these comments) lead me to no other conclusion than to assume that people have not actually read the proposals which can be found quite easily anywhere (and were posted to every property). The proposals answer many of the questions, and refute many of the assumptions, guesses, and speculation being bandied around.

    In response to Roy, you present a situation where somebody commutes to work every day, crossing all applicable boundaries. This is the behaviour that these proposals are aimed at mitigating! if people wish to do this, then they will be affected of course, there are alternative options available, and there, will be yet more alternatives as time goes on, which will become increcingly attractive. Nobody will be (or is) forced to commute to and from work via car every single day. This is not a tax, stealth or otherwise, since it will *only* affect those who willingly place themselves in a situation wherein it will be levied.

    It has worked in London..

  43. Alan Kelly Says:

    James…Trafford park will get 50% reduction because there will not be sufficient public transport in place. Please explain no-one will be forced to use their car?

    London Congestion Charge has resulted in reduction in business trade, has raised between £10 million and £30 million in profit in 5 years (bearing in mind we will need to raise £1.2 billion plus interest in 30 years), has had no appreciable difference in congestion. What a great advert for your pro argument!

  44. i love jack russells Says:

    Is this a good time to remember the possibility of an elected mayor ? If 5% of the electorate sign a petition asking for a referendum on having an elected mayor, then the referendum has to go ahead. Having an elected mayor would devolve some of the power away from the current relatively small (obedient to the Leader) Executive cllrs of MCC, and provide alternative views and proposals. Personally, as someone who works in town and sees Deansgate and the surrounding area static with cars (containing single lone drivers) every night, I am not against the congestion charge in principle. The situation as it stands is bad and can only get worse as the number of cars increases. However, I do have doubts as to whether the current proposals are going to result in less congestion and improved public transport. But having an elected mayor would at least give somebody else a soapbox, and give us the chance of alternative views and proposals.

  45. For the TiF Says:

    Alan – Firstly, any questionnaires or documentation to which you refer are not mine, I have had absolutely nothing to do with writing or distributing them. I have had absolutely nothing to do with any of the decisions regarding the number of AGMA votes required to pass the proposals nor the decision to move towards a referendum (which will, in my opinion, leave the proposals dead in the water) You assume I work for GMPTE or am in someway involved in AGMA’s TiF bid; neither is true. My support for the proposals is entirely from the viewpoint of a resident of Greater Manchester.

    My assertion was not that businesses within the congestion charge zone would grow (although they might, there are vast differences between London’s scheme and Manchester’s proposals) but that there was potential for business in the whole area to grow due to a £3b investment in public transport. I wish there were a similar city in the UK that had invested £3b in an integrated transport system to which we could look as an example for potential growth but there isn’t; we would, once again, be blazing a trail.

    I don’t know what you do for a living (I’m not asking you to tell me, it’s none of my business), but if it’s simply a case of you needing to have £1300 extra per year so that you can continue driving to work, then you do have a choice. One of the main aims of the congestion charge is to encourage people to get out of their cars and onto the improved public transport system.

    You say congestion during peak times isn’t that bad, well you’re very fortunate in the roads you take. I work in the City Centre and regularly use the Parkway/Oxford Road/Upper Brook Street to get to and from town during peak times and, particularly during university and school term times, to call the congestion on these roads pretty awful is a gross understatement.

    As with most people firmly routed in the ‘anti’ camp you’re focussing too much on the congestion aspect of the scheme. I firmly believe that the main aim of the TiF bid was not to reduce congestion in the city per se, but to obtain the money to improve the public transport system of the whole Greater Manchester region, which if delivered successfully would result in a reduction of congestion in the city.

    As I have said in a previous post, for me it’s a choice of either taking a bold step, accepting the charge and improving our public transport or reject the charge and do nothing, which could leave our already struggling roads and public transport system in a real mess.

    Oh, and making public transport totally free?? Now who’s being deluded?

  46. Didsbury-ite Says:

    Alan Kelly. I couldn't believe it when i read you live only 2 miles from work! For gods sake man get a bicycle!

  47. Alan Kelly Says:

    Tif… I notice that the roads you travel down have been heavily slowed down by “improvements” such as bus lanes and badly sequenced lights. I do not assume anything. My references to “you” and “your” is simply to refer to your side.

    Sorry but when you stated that there was massive potential for economic growth I thought you were referring to businesses other than the privately owned transport companies who will be the only winners in this debacle but thank you for agreeing that your assertions are not founded on solid ground and are, in fact, guesses. However, my research based on evidence takes into account the London Congestion Charge which is the closest model to our own.

    If I am focussing on the congestion part of the scheme too much it is because this is a “Congestion Charge”. If the main aim of the scheme is not reduce congestion then we should refer to it in its proper terms, driving tax. It is ludicrous to suggest that this will reduce congestion because the economics don’t support the argument. There is a requirement for the congestion to continue in order to pay the loan back.

    If I got out of my car to get on public transport, do I suddenly stop paying my car bills? Car Tax, Insurance, MOT? I am sure that the majority of Pro Tax persons actually have forgotten that they will still pay for their cars to sit at home whilst contributing to the increased public transport payments whether congestion is sorted or not.

    Manchester are not trail blazing. They want the suburbs to pay for city centre improvement because they are worried about charging their own residents any more money. They are taking a backward step of gigantic proportions. Business will be set up and relocated outside the charge zone, as they did in London. If there was evidence to me travelling through Trafford that we were anywhere near or approaching gridlock I would support your views but we are not. In addition I now learn that the charge will be in place even if there is no public transport to accommodate persons. Trafford Park having been awarded a 50% reduction even though there will be insufficient public transport.

    Tif, look at London. They have made between £10 million and £30 million in 5 years on a charge that was touted to make up to £200 million per year, in a scheme that charges EVERYONE to enter the zone. I think there isn’t a city to compare with is because the other cities have looked at the proposals and realised that it is “economically disastrous” for their circumstances. Words used by Sir Richard Leese a few years ago in relation to this very scheme.

    Don’t fool yourself into the rose tinted Utopia of everyone travelling to and from work on public transport smiling as they go. It won’t happen. We will become the laughing stock of the country that is if we don’t bankrupt the city first.

  48. Says:

    Didsbury-ite....I actually said

    "I work 2 miles outside the city centre and will end up paying £5 for the privilege".

    By that, I mean I am paying a city centre inner ring congestion charge even though I am two miles from the centre!!!

    Please try and keep up.

  49. bicolouredpythonrocksnake Says:

    Future Transport, neither Simon Ashley nor the Labour councillor who was quoted on the subject of the car park last week nor Bernard Priest in the letter published today seem to think it was 'an idle suggestion'. Indeed, the last two both took pains to explain why it was needed.

    For the TiF, you say that you 'firmly believe that the main aim of the TiF bid was not to reduce congestion in the city per se, but to obtain the money to improve the public transport system'.

    There are two problems with this.

    First, we really need to unpick this idea that improvement in public transport can only be achieved by implementing a congestion charge. This is exactly the same as when the Labour government abnegated its responsibilities to maintain housing by refusing money to councils unless they sold off their stock. Not only does the government have a responsibility to ensure transport is provided whether or not there is a congestion charge, it has been promised investment by John Prescott, had it taken away by Alistair Darling, been promised it again by Ruth Kelly... More fundamentally, the current proposals simply don't make sense because if the congestion charge is successful and everyone switches to public transport there won't then be the money to pay for it - creating a new civic headache on the scale of the neglect of the town hall.

    Which brings us to the second problem. What you are describing is a tax levied solely on one group of people to pay for the choices of another group of people. If I was a driver, I'd be against this, too.

  50. Dave Telford Says:

    I'm looking at the figures and I have to say I'm confused as to why anyone would want to go ahead with the scheme.

    By putting £2300 to the cost of empploying every employee it's going to cause an economic disaster for firms and cause huge localised unemployment.

    Furthermore, with the costs involved, my calculations are that the scheme actually needs more car use than we currently have in order to achieve the revenue levels in the budget.

    With the set up costs at £318m, even if it comes in on budget, you are only left with £882m of 'new' money

  51. Dave Telford Says:

    The poster 'for the TIF' - you mention that someone has to pay £1,300 to drive thir car (on top of petrol etc.) I think you forget you have to add tax etc onto that. that's almost £2000 our of gross salary and costing our employer an additional £2,230 before giving any cost of living increase.

    This is important when you consider what will happen to emplyment once local businesses are burdened with additional costs of employing people.

  52. M C Spanner Says:

    Didbury-Ite? Law and Order - Is that you?

    How many more Park & Ride spaces will be created and where?

  53. Ali Says:

    Alan Kelly, I'm not sure why are you insist on comparing Manchester's scheme to London's when they're completely different.

    Congestion is clearly already a problem on some routes, and is only going to get worse unless we do something about it.

    What's on offer seems entirely reasonable - invest in providing the 'carrot' of a decent public transport system, and then introduce the 'stick' of a congestion charge at the busiest times.

    The main thing that seems to be missing at the moment is the idea of variable charging based on emissions of vehicles. If we're serious about tackling climate change, then as well as encouraging people to leave their cars at home, we also need to encourage those who keep driving to choose more efficient cars.

    Sir Richard, do you not think we can do better than a scheme in which a Hummer driver pays the same as Smart car driver?

  54. Alan Kelly Says:

    Ali….Have you read all the posts on the site? I have mentioned London in response to TIF stating that there was no similar city with a congestion charge which we could compare with. My suggestion is that if you look at London which is the closest geographically and in implementation then you get a vast difference in reality from what is promised by Manchester City Council. Incidentally, the result of the congestion charge in London is also vastly different to what was promised by Ken Livingstone.

    However, I would be interested to understand why you think they are different when they appear to be a charge to drive over an arbitrary point in the road!

  55. For the TiF Says:

    Alan - No time to reply in full now but the point the post to whcih you refer was that no similar city (London included)has had £3b to invest in one go in its transport system.

  56. Dave Telford Says:

    I hate to labour the financial point but after all it's the whole point of the scheme.

    The London charge costs just short of £3 to collect teh revenue per vehicle (accoring to tfl) if the charge for the outer limit is going to be less than £3, isn't the whole thing going to lose money unless cars go on to cross the ineer line.

    In short, the way I see it, the scheme is relying on increased central trafic, not less.

  57. Ali Says:

    Alan, the London scheme is rather crude - you get charged if you drive anywhere within the congestion charging zone between 7am and 6pm. The proposed scheme for Manchester is much more targeted - you would only get charged if you cross one of two rings towards the city centre in the morning peak and away from the city centre in the evening peak, and there would be no charge for crossing the rings in the opposite direction or driving between rings. And don't forget, the charge would only be introduced in five years' time after a multi-billion pound investment in the transport system...

  58. Alan Kelly Says:

    For the TIF and Ali….But surely the point is that even with one of the best transport systems in the world there is significant congestion, business is being diverted out of the congestion zone, the scheme is not making the £200 million per year Ken Livingstone stated it would. Do I need to go on?

    It is typical of the labour councils and government, in respect of the motor car, now that playing field has been levelled somewhat and social mobility can be accessed by more, they attempt to create a stealth tax that firmly places everyone back into their place

  59. Richard Says:

    Can 3 Billion Pounds really help the city? sure when the investment is made and the changes and improvements are completed we -could- have a better transport system as a result. In the long run, however, the city is having to repay that money plus interest and as has already been said, this would clearly rely on increased road usage within the boundaries, not less.

    You cannot expect the many, many people that already drive in and around Manchester for work purposes, to ditch their car and start paying the extra money for public transport along with their current car payments, especially with hefty tax increases coming within the next year.

    People don't use their car just to work.

  60. Dan Says:

    Re: James (04/07/08) - I did *not* say that it is patronising to assume that people do not understand the proposals. I said it is patronising to suggest that the proposals will be downed merely because people do not understand them. There is a distinct difference between these two statments as I am sure you are aware. Yes, some people would vote no through lack of understanding but then an equal amount of people would vote yes through lack of understanding. After such an exhaustive (not to mention expensive) consultation period it is utter folly to suggest that ignorance would be the primary reason for these plans being halted (if it ever gets to voting stage).

  61. For the TiF Says:

    Alan – no that isn’t the point. In London, the transport system was already in place and had been for many years. Therefore all those people that used their cars to get to work had no incentive, bar the congestion charge, to get out of their cars. In the case of Manchester, there will first of all be massive improvements to the public transport system, so those people that drive to work in town now because the public transport system where they live isn’t up to much, will have more choice.

    The TiF bid is for the whole of Greater Manchester not just the city centre, so your point about business locating outside of the congestion charge zone isn’t necessarily a bad one. With an improved transport system and better access to workforce and customers, businesses may well choose to locate in places such as Wigan, Ashton, Oldham etc rather than the city centre but it’s the fact that businesses would choose to locate in the region in the first place is the point.

    Lets be accurate about the congestion charge, it is not a stealth tax. A stealth tax is a tax that’s either introduced or increased without properly informing the wider public. Now, it doesn’t matter which side of the argument you’re on in this debate, you can’t argue there’s in any way been an attempt to introduce this measure without informing the public.

    As for your final point about social mobility, I’m afraid you’ve lost me there.

  62. Alan Kelly Says:

    For the Tif….The only model we can compare with is London. Even with a successful and substantial transport network the congestion charge DID NOT WORK. Why? Because public transport is not, and never will be, an alternative to car use in business terms. The point is that the crux of the Manchester scheme relies upon the congestion to pay back the loan which is why it is flawed.

    You really have rose tinted spectacles of this utopia where we all can get a bus or similar to where we want at any time of the day whilst business flock to the region so that they can employ staff who will require extra pay to accommodate their need to pay the congestion charge. Do me a favour!! These businesses will locate outside Greater Manchester because they realise that the likelihood is a congestion charge around Oldham, Ashton and Wigan is to follow. Instead they will locate in Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire. Again research the websites outlining this happening in London.

    A stealth tax can also be a tax which purports to be for one reason but is actually designed and intended for another. This is a stealth tax because Manchester City Council and the previous GMPTA/AGMA used flawed information to get the ball rolling, ie A questionnaire with highly dubious questions which provided answers which can be interpreted different ways. This was followed by a leaflet outlining circumstances pertinent to Manchester residents which turned out to be untruths, using American models and made up circumstances proving the congestion charge “improvement”. Talk of gridlock when data provided to Manchester City Council actually show that traffic into Manchester is already falling. Talk of Gridlock when the reality is that most commuters face no gridlock or even congestion of any note. This is a charge based on information proven to have no real substance. Their stealth was to lie to us many times and to continue to lie to us.

    The sad thing for me is that gullible people now seem to think that the Sir Richard Leese referendum u-turn is an admirable change in policy reflecting the wishes of Greater Manchester people. The reality is that he has now realised that, legally, he cannot enforce Trafford, Bury and Stockport to install, run or maintain the congestion charge equipment and therefore this process is dead. His only clutch at straws is to now promote a referendum which is binding upon the whole of Manchester in the faint hope that there is some majority verdict in his favour. It would be ludicrous to allow Oldham, Ashton and Wigan a say in what goes on in Trafford otherwise they could impose a congestion charge solely in Trafford by a Greater Manchester majority against the wishes of the Trafford majority

    Social mobility refers to the fact that progress was for everyone to own their cars. The cynic in me, now we all own cars, sees this as a means for the Labour Party to slap us all back down, make it financially difficult for us to own and run our cars, in order that rich people and councillors can free up the roads for their unfettered access to Manchester where they can park their cars in their private car parks.

  63. Dave Telford Says:

    For TIF – I think you are a little deluded. Whilst you acknowledge that where possible business will move out of the congestion zone, you seem to justify the economic impact by saying towns like Wigan etc will benefit. That is wishful thinking, it’s likely business will move further afield and in some cases, not only out of the region but out of the UK all together. The impact on the local economy will be devastating.

    This approach hardly benefits the environment either. Having business, workplaces and shopping in the city centre is a good thing as the road and rail network means people can come, park, alight from whatever transport and walk to work and from shop to shop. Encouraging business to move to disparate parts of the region / country / globe means more travelling to out of town business or retail parks. Because the TIF plan made laid down in 2008 (or 9,10 or whenever) cannot anticipate this, you will increase car use not decrease it.

    Also the sums don’t add up, if the aim is to decrease congestion, why are the forecast revenues from a congestion charge suggesting that to achieve this income the numbers of cars entering the zones will have to be far higher than they are now. So to achieve revenues you have to increase cars or (never let it be said) the CC zone will have to be in operation for far longer or even far higher than suggested in the propaganda.

  64. Ali Says:

    Dave - I think you and Alan are the deluded ones. You suggest a £3 billion investment in Greater Manchester's transport system will lead to businesses moving out of Manchester. Why would they want to do that when there will be a huge workforce and customer base within easy reach of a high quality public transport system, and there will be less congestion to disrupt their operations?

    Alan - you say the London charge did not work, even though congestion in London is no worse than it was when the charge was introduced. Are you really suggesting that congestion would have got no worse if the charge hadn't been introduced? And if the London charge is such a failure, why did none of the candidates in the recent mayoral election suggest scrapping it?

    You argue that only Trafford residents should have a say on whether Trafford supports the bid. What about all the people from other parts of Greater Manchester who work in Trafford, what right do the people of Trafford have to decide how those people get to work? We're not talking about a scheme that is just going to affect one borough, we're talking about £3 billion of investment across the whole of Greater Manchester, and so it's perfectly reasonable that the decision should be made across the whole of Greater Manchester.

    And you seem to think everyone owns a car, whereas a third of households in Greater Manchester (and more than half in some of the most deprived areas) don't, and less than half of people who work in town drive to work. Social mobility isn't about everyone being forced to shell out thousands of pounds a year to own a car and end up in gridlock, it's about everyone having the opportunity to get where they need to go, which is best achieved by the kind of high quality transport system that £3 billion of investment will help to deliver.

  65. Marissa P Says:

    The reason Oxford Rd is congested is too many buses (they don't need that many not even when all the students are around)!

  66. Dave T Says:

    Ali, in answer to your point, business will move or favour elsewhere becasue the cost of employing is higher. Add £2k + to the bill for employing every employee and business will have to consider the value for money they are getting. As a guide, for £2200 our business would expect an additional £5500 worth of revenue from an individual employee. In short, if they cannot deliver this, are they worth keeping?

    I'd suggest few businesses in the GM region rely on local custom and customers are not going to pay more for goods simply because a local council clerk wants to make a name for himself.

  67. Alan Kelly Says:

    Ali…..You totally misunderstand. I am not against public transport and investment in it but not charging a section of society to finance the investment. It would be wonderful if I could get a bus/train/tram within 5 minutes of my home address which would whisk me in comfort and safety to my destination but it is a fanciful idea which would not be achieved by charging a small section of the population.

    What we are getting is £2 billion investment and a loan of almost £1 billion spent on enforcing a congestion charge. A loan which relies upon congestion in order to pay it back even though it is designed to reduce congestion.

    I believe we should spend £3 billion on public transport without the requirement for the congestion charge. The government has plenty of money to afford the £1.2 billion and should allow us to improve the transport network for free. If this utopia then becomes a reality and we have a modern, reliable and efficient transport system which can be evidenced and has been in place for 2 or 3 years then I would be happy to revisit my views on the charge.

    What I don’t accept is that I should accept a charge now before any of this is put in place, before any assessment as to whether it works or not and before any advantages or disadvantages are identified just because you and Sir Richard Leese say I should.

  68. jonathan smith Says:

    So now we have it. The CC will bring in £10 billion in increased wealth according to the "independent" survey carried out on behalf of GMPTE so it must be true. Only wouldn't the government willingly give us £3 Billion to get a return of £10 Billion. It would be the best financial result of anything they have done since 1997 when they told us of their ten year integrated transport policy ! The set up cost of £318 million would solve the congestion if there ever was any. The petrol price has already cured most of that. How many school buses can you buy with £300 million ? August, as we have seen recently ( only a month ago ) had no congestion . No school run = no congestion. Buy the buses, run 4 carriage trams at peak times and problem solved. Send my cheque to ....

  69. David James Says:

    While electrification of the East Coast Main Line continued in parallel with development of the Intercity 225, it was quickly decided not to fit the new trains for tilt operation, though they were designed with provision for the equipment to be retro-fitted. Tests at the design speed of 225km/h were undertaken with great success but the need to alter indicating on the entire 628km (390-mile) route proved too costly and the new trains were restricted to the 200km/h at which the diesel high-speed trains already operated.

     David James

  70. Liam Says:

    What is the city council doing for the residents of hardy lane and mauldeth road west about the lowering of council tax and compensation from gmpte for the disruption and blighting of the lives and living environment.don't pass me on to gmpte i am still waiting for an answer from them



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