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Boris wants Manchester’s money

Sleuth learns of London’s green-eyed yearning for £1.8bn of Congestion Charging funding

Published on September 24th 2008.


Boris wants Manchester’s money

The Labour Party Conference in Manchester has thrown up a whole heap of interesting rumours for Sleuth - Manchester Confidential’s man on the inside. Some of them are considerably more than rumours, stories that apparently have, as they say ‘legs’. Legs, that may run off with cash that could come to this region.

The best story concerns the Transport Innovation Fund bid (aka Congestion Charging). To ensure that a welter of improvements for public transport in Greater Manchester can be successfully introduced, £1.8bn of central Government funding is on the table. This will then lever in further sums amounting to a total investment of around £3bn.

Whether the money is forthcoming or not depends on the outcome of a referendum on 11 December. If seven or more of the ten councils that make up Greater Manchester vote yes then the money will come our way. If not then it’s bye-bye to the £1.8bn.

Given the scale of the initiative and the intense debate going on, the whole process up here is being very closely monitored by all manner of folk: politicians, civil servants, business leaders, commuters, community representatives and no doubt, given what the money is for, trainspotters too.

In particular the government sum of £1.8bn is being eyed up by other local authorities in a frankly licentious way. If Manchester doesn’t get it they’d love to swag the thing.

Boris Johnson is especially green-eyed. The London mayor has major infrastructure issues.

Here are a few of them. The collapse of Metronet, a private company which was to refurbish and update the Tube, is already putting enormous strain on the already creaking finances of Transport for London (TfL) - the body which oversees London’s public transport. There is a projected funding black hole in the Crossrail scheme. Anticipated revenues for TfL are likely to prove optimistic with the global downturn in the economy hitting City businesses and huge numbers of tourists, particularly those from North America.

Boris therefore is, Sleuth learns, already speaking to people in government about how Manchester’s £1.8bn would be very handy for London.

Boris thinks if Greater Manchester says no on 11 December, he could use the cash very innovatively; help sort out pressing problems ahead of the Olympics, get things going again after it. Nice, tidy sum indeed. If it helps he may even get a big flag out and wave it around as he did for the closing ceremony in Beijing.

It’s not just Boris either. Sleuth hears that other cities, such as Bristol, are positioning themselves to make a play for the money with transport innovation schemes of their own.

Sleuth had a word with Councillor Jim Battle, who’s on the steering group for the Yes campaign, about this and he said: “It’s obvious Boris has his eye on Manchester’s money. Unless we’re careful the Bullingdon boys will snatch our money away, in a bid to help their big city friends spend their way out of the credit crunch. Our message is hands off Boris, London’s had more than its share.”

Well, he would say that of course (and that’s a tricky little reference to David Cameron’s drinking club in his Oxford days, Jim).

All of this focuses the mind on the TIF money and where it might end up. In the end, of course, people will (let’s hope) vote on whether the whole scheme is worthwhile.

The yes vote people will say we can’t let this opportunity and money slip through our hands, the no vote people will say yes we can because none of it adds up. If the decision is a negative Greater Manchester can at least congratulate itself, on helping grease the wheels of London's transport network. If Boris has his way.

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69 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Kevin Peel - GO! Greater ManchesterSeptember 24th 2008.

If we vote YES SIXTY MILLION a month will be spent on public transport - more then is currently spent in a year. Greater Manchester CANNOT AFFORD to say no to this once in a generation opportunity to VASTLY improve the public transport infrastructure. 9 OUT OF 10 people WON'T PAY AT ALL so our challenge is to focus on these people and convince them to go and vote for a transport revolution and ignore the nay sayers determined to drive their car come hell or high water!

Artie FufkinSeptember 24th 2008.

Night reader, you make a very good point. Good idea as it is to have a little more spent on buses and stuff but it needs to be spent carefully in areas that meets the most demand. Not in some dash to spend it on anything that looks all fluffy without a real reflection of what is actually needed.The problem with all projects like this, is that they are designed to cater for a typical commuter that is a figment of the planner's imagination. Most of us have cars, we use them and most of us would happily use a bit of public transport if it takes us from our front door and drops us fairly close to our destination. We would also happily get in our cars, drive to a free secure car park, and get on a train of some sort for which we're prepared to wait a couple of minutes. We also will happily return home under the same circumstances.The problem is, the project's plan assumes everyone does not have a car and certainly will be looking to get rid as soon as possible. It also assumes we all work in one central mega employment centre and live in similar reidential blocks. Anyone who lives elsewhere or works somewhere not exacly central must be someone who wishes to venture to work making 5 changes of transport mode and never ever dares work before 9 in the morning or a minute later than 5 at night.It's basically designed for a public sector employee. Ok course, public setor employees are really just the willing unemployable so really we shouldn't be pandering to these unproductive sectors of society

Artie FufkinSeptember 24th 2008.

Ben you are not only potty mouthed but also a little simple. Most of the Tram lines in Tif are going ahead without the huge loan. The majority of the £2.5bn sepnd is going on admin, contingency, watchdogs and fat salaries for Bernstein and Leese. Many of the tram services are already going to be built, the extra buses would be provided anyway if there is demand (that's why bus services have already increased 1/3).Do not be taken in, and also down be rude about short - sighted folk, i wear glasses and frankly I'm offended.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2008.

We would all like to have improved public transport and most countries less affluent than ours, seem to have reliable, affordable public transport without bleeding dry there people. Is it not the goverment/councils responsibility to provide for the communities public transport needs. Talk about dangling a carrot, it's basically blackmail. What about the money raised from speeding fines and car tax? Are british drivers not paying enough already? Don't fall for it people, once these charges start they will never stop and will be continually raised way above average every year. It's just another way to raise capital. Congestion can be reduced by other means and we need to look at other ways of raising the cash for public transport. DONT BE FOOLED, SAY NO! (to the congestion charge and blackmail, let london have the money)

redbullSeptember 24th 2008.

dont believe the hype. 3bn quid is peanuts it cost 3x that to build the jubilee line for the millenium dome. The point is very little improvement for cyclists (no provision on trams at all) a few school buses (which we already have - they're just gonna paint them yellow and call them 'school bus')a few extra busses (in some of manchester) those in north manchester probably won't see any of this improvement. I also hope all these people that don't travel through the charge zones understand they will still be massively affected because people will avoid travelling within the m60 and will instead use all the roads around the zone. The traffic problem outside of the charging zone will be massive. Very little thought has gone into this half assed idea!!

JohnSeptember 24th 2008.

I believe very strongly in the need for a good quality public transport system, what I don't believe in is either the will or the ability to deliver that of the people who will be handed this pot of gold. The reality is that the first tranche of money will go to consultants at £1,500 a day each followed by the rest going to greedy incompetent private sector companies with absolutely no standards as shown very clearly by their current performance. The authorities have realised quite some time ago that motorists are a cash cow, they are addicted to their cars in the same way that smokers and drinkers are addicted to alchohol and tobacco. Consequently they know that they can get away with charging them for something that they have already paid for many times via road tax and fuel tax. The recent fuel price rises have handed over a windfall in revenue to the government, they should use it to provide cheap, clean, efficient, safe public transport but they won't, instead they will bail out incompetent banks, wage war on Iraq, pour money into the Olympics etc., etc. A Yes vote is just the public dropping their trousers and bending over yet again.

Ali McGowanSeptember 24th 2008.

I don't mind if we give the £1.8bn to London - I am not voting yes in a million years for the CC. Why? Because thus far, our collective Councils and transport authority have failed spectacularly in delivering a tram system for us. Remember the Commonwealth Games? The trams were meant to take people there. Since then all we have done is sit on the issue and managed to almost double the cost of the Big Bang extension to £900 million - and not build it! So why would I trust them this time round. Also - why use public money? Use PFI / PPP or a private company to build, operate and own for the next 50 years an updated, extended tram system. The devil would be in the detail but we wouldn't at least be fannying around like we are now...

Disappointed ReaderSeptember 24th 2008.

I am amazed at the severely biased and distorted way your article presents the argument for a congestion charge. My initial reaction was it must be April fools day and you where just trying to wind everyone up, but it is clear now that you have absolutely no respect for the intelligence of your readers.This issue is hugely divisive, and should be discussed and reported on in an adult manner, not by trying to goad your readers into accepting something just to spite all those foolish people who have taken the descision to live in London.Personally I am still undecided about the right way to go with the charge, but any more of this childish reporting will only succeed in push me towards the no vote.In Manchester we are not like them idiots from down south, the people of Manchester do not need to be coerced or dragged screaming towards the future, we are simple people who understand what is best for our city and our region, you would do well to treat us with the respect we deserve, just give us the truth and I am confident the correct outcome for the city will result.I am afraid Mancon this time you got it wrong and you should be ashamed.

garySeptember 24th 2008.

A clearly universally ignored fact is that congestion is already reducing. It has reduced every year for the last 5 years. The radical 'looking to the future' isn't - it is a short-term cash injection with long term financial raping of greater Manchester people. (As for the comparison with fuel cost. The cost of a daily commuter will add between £7-£10 PER GALLON to the cost of fuel.) As for the notion that expecting someone to walk, carrying three bags, 4 miles per day, every day, irrespective of weather (and the 3 hours per day it would add to a 12 mile commute), just to appease politicians and greenies is simply farcical. As I said - if it is in the public interest - the public asset that is the airport should be the first port-of-call rather than the already raped purse of the average man and woman.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2008.

it totally sucks that no provision for cycles have been made for the trams. even if there only allowed off peak.

BenSeptember 24th 2008.

If we DONT get the tram extensions I will seriously loose faith in Manchester and its people. It is an absolute must for the devlopment of the cities economy. It your crumbbling about the congestion charge because you have to commute from Chester every day then move closer to the city centre. Its more sustainable, you'll save money and its better for the environment. If you still want your detached house with three cars then f**k off some where else, you short sighted people. Its not just about you and your sad little lives.....So not to sound to absolutist about it I think 'Yes' is the only answer.

JohnSeptember 24th 2008.

Many of the 'no' people resort to picking up on spelling and typo's as it gives them a chance to extened their points and it look like they have more to say. But yeah, the charge will hopefully force these people who are scared of walking a mile to stop using their cars and start walking. :-)

Well saidSeptember 24th 2008.

Ben for Mayor!

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2008.

Why is it so easy to get a referendum on whether or not we get £3bn of investment, but so hard to get a referendum on Europe, or well, absolutely anything else you choose to think of?

RachelSeptember 24th 2008.

Indeed we should vote yes, only those unwilling to accept change, especially within their own behaviour are refusing to acknowledge the benefits this funding opportunity will bring. Saying that, i have resopnded to the consultation to point out there needs to be much better provision for cyclists included in the plans until it is truely worth having...

GarySeptember 24th 2008.

Sorry....just checked the facts. Its £5 at 2007 prices, not even today's prices.

Public ManSeptember 24th 2008.

Vote YES for improved public transport and more jobs in the longterm. Folk in Birmingham aren't strutting about presaging the imminent demise of Manchester, they're worried it will hand our city - already well-served by a large, successful, municipally-owned airport - the ultimate edge in attracting high-paying legal-, financial- and service-sector jobs.And now for the obligatory slanging match: Gary, for a man who is clearly fond of going to the gym, you seem to be suspiciously afraid of a one mile walk... and before you criticise others' spelling you might want to learn how to use an apostrophe.

EloiseSeptember 24th 2008.

I dont like it, I vote NO and I dont even drive. All this nonsense about how virtually no-one will have to pay the charge, if that was the case what would be the point? They'll be hikes every year until the city centre is a ghost town. I thought the point was to improve transport so people could then choose to get rid of the car, as I did when I moved into the city. Of course I walk everywhere, its the cheapest and most reliable transport in manchester I find and likely to remain so, money with strings or no.

Peter Roberts - Drivers' AllianceSeptember 24th 2008.

What a load of old baloney.This is clearly written to generate a competition between London and Manchester and has absolutely no basis in fact.Why would the money go to London? TIF money is offered on the express condition that a local authority introduces a congestion charge - which is why Manchester is having the referendum. If the people are sensible and say 'NO' then the money may not be forthcoming.London already has congestion charging which Boris is likely to abandon. Therefore London cannot qualify for this TIF cash and it is mischievous for the author to suggest it is even a possibility. This is a silly attempt to create envy and confusion. Shame on the author.

ChrisSeptember 24th 2008.

All this talk of peak oil arriving soon (absolute rubbish BTW but that's a different story....), have none of you pro-toll trolls ever heard of electrically-powered cars?Oh and Gramsci - Congestion IS reducing year-on-year....FACT!Vote NO on 11.12.08.

Slip DigbySeptember 24th 2008.

Gary - "Not really a fair return for a charge that will be somewhere between £7 and £10 per day for anyone commuting (many of whom have no Public Transport infrastructure available)"Anyone commuting in and out across both rings will pay £5. That is the charge for the 20% of peak time weekday drivers who will have to pay for at all.

garySeptember 24th 2008.

Oh slip - you have fallen into the spin. The charge is estimated £5 AT TODAYS VALUES. Even the council have admitted the actual charge in 2013 will be more like £7.50. As for the 20% - if 80% of traffic is outside of peak hours....they are not really peak hours are they?? and there wouldn't be a need. Time to stop reading spin and start facing facts!!

sarahSeptember 24th 2008.

All's that I can say is that he is welcome to it.

garySeptember 24th 2008.

Emma - using that logic, lets get away with cars all together, they didn't have them 10 decades ago. Likewise, we managed perfectly well without electricity, or running water, or air travel. In fact, lets fly in the face of all evolution - I'm sure the world would be a better place.

Not buying the propagandaSeptember 24th 2008.

Why should our hard earned money pay for the government to effectively give a big cash handout to private bus companies, who already charge extortionate prices (because they can - each bus company has a monopoly on a particular area of Greater Manchester, as far as I can see) and make extortionate profits, yet don't deliver - where I live (just 6-7 miles outside of the city centre), buses are every 30 minutes at peak times, and are regularly late and at times don't turn up at all! I have complained about this in the past, and have been told that the route is subsidised by GMPTE as it is not profitable enough for the private bus company to be willing to run it. As Matt says, how is the TIF money going to change this?? I will potentially be paying twice (on the days I have no option but to drive when the bus doesn't turn up again) for the exact same crappy service I've always received...

GarySeptember 24th 2008.

Bigfish - thanks for the insult and miss-spelling. See the above response - or read any of the relevant literature. As for the infrastructure. I live in a large conurbation, a mile from the nearest bus stop, 2 miles from the nearest station. IF I got a £6 taxi ride to the station, it would take me c1 hour 20 minutes to get the taxi, the train, and then suffer the 15 minute walk to the office in central Manchester. It would also cost me c£20 per day. My current commute takes me 18 minutes and I can carry my briefcase, laptop and gym bag in the boot of

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2008.

Just say No.

Stop talking a load of oldSeptember 24th 2008.

Why cant everyone stop talking a load of old rubbish and we just get on with modernising our future? I have just returned from Germany where bikes, trams and careful traffic management create fantastic places to be. Change happens quickly and it seems logical. Everything about this country and its views seem illogical - and it takes years for it to achieve anything. Get the charge in and get on pulling this City up to scratch as otherwise all the marketing b*****S about it being a world city is a lie. Its embarrassing. Oh and diversify our night time economy too

DavidSeptember 24th 2008.

Firstly let me start of in saying that I am against road pricing/congestion charge whatever you want to call it. Are people forgetting something here. It says that manchester will be given 1.8bn from the government and to pay for it they would have to introduce a road pricing scheme. What about the other 1.2bn surely that is more than enough to upgrade the infrastructure? But hold on there is twist to this, Manchester won't get that either unless they agree to road pricing then they get the 3bn. what f**k**g cop out. London get 14bn(which could be spent on better things such as providing a better internet service) at a drop of hat to invest in the cross city railway system yet we have to bring in road pricing just to get a little bit of investment money. That's the rant over thanks to anyone who has read it for this long.

The poisoned chalice with too much to saySeptember 24th 2008.

i can't prove it, but i am sure the light sequences vary from one day to the next in Manchester city centre. am i correct in thinking that London admitted to do this on the run up to them getting the conjestion charges??? The traffic lights on the top of Miller street / Rochdale road (nr Shudehill) seem to change from one day to the next. Is there anyway we can find this info out from a reliable source???

BigfishSeptember 24th 2008.

Gar, you cretin!Where do you get your figures from?? £7 and £10?? Also, people WILL have the public transport infrastructure!

GarySeptember 24th 2008.

Simon. Council has £3bn. Council needs £3bn. Council would rather squeeze £3bn out of other people (who are already over-squeezed), rather than use their own £3bn. Why does the council need their key asset? It does nothing. They spend more on non-north-west ventures than they receive in dividend - so this asset already COSTS the people of Manchester to keep. Councils are NOT investment houses, nor are the conglomerates.

Matt ArrowsmithSeptember 24th 2008.

I've really had enough of Kevin Peele. The guy's a PR machine. I'm not a driver, never owed a car. But i do cycle everywhere in Manchester and at the moment that's pretty dangerous. TIF makes no concession for safe, joined-up cycle routes - in such a flat city that's a disgrace.Like i've said before Kevin: get a grip, look beyond the spin and think for yourself. and then think about people who don't drive but still hate the bus.FYI: I'm an abstention becuase i dont' disagree with investment in public transport I just don't see value for money for the people of Manchester.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2008.

Just say no.If the congestion charge is such a good idea then Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow will be eager for it won't they?I'll be leigible to pay the charge on my commute from Altrincham. At the time I travel in the morning traffic jams are non-existent and I'll have to pay for absolutely nothing. This is a tax grab, nothing less. There is plenty of scope for raisng cash eleswhere - for example we could elect councillors who would promise to reduce public employee pension provision from its current superb level to the average for the private sector. How much would that raise?

Artie FufkinSeptember 24th 2008.

good in-depth point JJ, having read your argument, I'll vote Go too, I mean I'll vote No too!

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2008.

Matt, try using the improved public transport or car share. The only 'no' argument to the Cong Charge is 'me, me, me'. Overall long term improvements for all are obvious.

KateSeptember 24th 2008.

The state of Manchester's public transport is disgraceful. It is expensive, dirty and rarely on time. The longer Stagecoach are allowed the monopoly of the bus system, the more money the people of (South) Manchester will be spending. Right now, for my husband and me to get in to town for a Saturday shop it is cheaper to drive and pay to park than it is to take the bus. There is something wrong with that. And we only live in Victoria Park. If this £3bn will give a bit more to Manchester and the only side-effect is a congestion charge, then I say bring it on. And don't give it to London, London has had enough. Of course there is divide between the North and the South. If the government is not giving money to the south first, then they are spending money on 'think tanks' that tell people from the North they need to move to the South. Somethings up with that.

CarlosTheJackalSeptember 24th 2008.

Unsurprisingly, as Gary and Matt have eloquently pointed out, the critical point most people seem to miss here is that the government's own figures don't seem to bear close scrutiny. They claim that 80% of commuters won't need to pay, which by their own definition means that only 20% of people commute by car at peak times. Do 8 out of every ten people you know that work in central Manchester either work out of 'normal' office hours, or get the bus/tram? I suspect not. All of which means that the comfort we're presently drawing from being told effectively that only 20% of people have anything to lose may prove very cold comfort indeed. Who knows how much all the other elements of running a car will increase between now and 2013? Petrol/diesel prices ... car tax ... parking ... say No, for Christ's sake. ManCon's article is deliberately divisive, playing on our proud (though justifiable) feelings of Northern supremacy. "Got the Black Plague for sale, have you? Go one then - us Mancs will have it - I'd hate to see those bloody Cockneys getting it and then swanning around showing off." We're not that stupid, ManCon. Are we?

The poisoned chaliceSeptember 24th 2008.

I have to admit, I’ve been reading the RANTS on this subject with great interest. I will try to get my points across with no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in fear of reprimand from fellow-RANTERS. I am completely on the fence when it comes to the congestion charges, but feel as though there are other ways to finance the added transport routes and infrastructure we need to bring this city up the scratch! I commute into Manchester at rush hour every day. Although I only live 4 miles from the city centre I must admit I seldom come across any congestion, and certainly not the levels that would justify congestion charging. It is another way for the government to make money and I truly believe that. The vast majority of people live a reasonable distance from a train station or bus route…. People would be more inclined to use these if they were reliable. And for the people that don’t live close to public transport, then let them drive into Manchester without it costing them a further £5 / £7/ £10 or what ever it will be IF we eventually get it. No-one has mentioned the fact that PEEL wanted to invest private sector money in turning Manchester’s docks back to its former glory with the precise aim of reducing trucks / inner city transportation on our roads. WHY WON’T THE GOVERNMENT CONSIDER THIS IDEA?? They seems a fantastic idea, but one that looks like it will never take off due to the ‘golden egg’ the government will get from charging us to turn up to bloody work! I think I’ve made my mind up….. I’m saying NO! I find the government complete liars when it comes to giving the public all the facts and costs that this will entail. Whilst I feel proud that Manchester are looking to have a ‘world class’ transport system, and it probably is a ‘once in a generation’ offer, but I think the pricing is way-out, and like everything that is done in this country, it will be late, cost twice as much as originally planned, and won’t work anyway!

The poisoned chaliceSeptember 24th 2008.

LylaB, i think most of the "whining selfish car drivers" would, like Artie said, be glad to use improved public transport. The issue is this money that TIF are daggling infront of us so that they can make huge sums of money charging us to go to work. I haven't heard ANYONE disagree with the need for Manchester to get improved transport, but people do not have faith in the people that are pushing this idea through, and personally, I wonder why it can’t be done by another means other than charging people to drive into a city that does have congestion in the first place! One way to reduce congestion would be to not allow companies to dig up the roads during rush-hour. Is it just me that thinks that’s a ridiculous idea?? Manchester wants better public transport, but transport that will actually work for people commuting to and from Manchester, and not by penalizing those who have no choice but to work in the city centre. YES for better transport, NO to congestion charges. (no doubt there will be someone that states the obvious about 'How do we get the money for the improved transport?' Give us the £3 billion you have ear-marked and sod off back to London. we don't want to give you our congestion money Downing Street!)

YoungSeptember 24th 2008.

ps. I agree it's a stupid story!!

AlexSeptember 24th 2008.

Keep your hands off our money Boris! I am fed up with the old cramped buses that go down Oxford road, and having to wait hours in traffic on the work to work, I really hope people vote YES

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2008.

I`d love a vote here in glossop!! classic manchester orientated commuter town all public transport controlled by GMPTE and the local paper this week had a 4 pge cover extolling the "yes" vote and ive had the leaflet delivered!! and were the people who will be paying the congestion charge!! - what would i vote!? YES of course its common sense!!

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2008.

Alternatively, vote YES for a scheme that will improve public transport links and services, reduce congestion in the city centre, and won't cost anything for those already living within the congestion zone. Those living outside the congestion zone can either use public transport or carpool to reduce the charge- things people should be trying to do more anyway.

MJSeptember 24th 2008.

Gary ... do you actually do any work? Or do you just spend each of your working days ranting on Manchester Confidential?

Night readerSeptember 24th 2008.

Having stayed in south London for 10 days recently I experienced first hand what "congestion" really is - its nowhere near that level in Manchester! I have swayed between "no" and "yes" over a few months but currently I really resent the sweetner on offer, i.e. we only gtt the second tranche of funding IF the congestion charge is brought in. Yes, we do need improved transport and infrastructure but do we really need a tram link to the airport which is already well served by train? Surely a commuter route or the alternative cross town tram route would be a better use of 'congestion' money. Nothing in the current propoals would improve my current route to work from the Stockport area - apart from season tickets prices may rise to fall in with across board price banding.

JJSeptember 24th 2008.

The TIF will reinvigorate Manchester decrepit transport system, it is a good and positive movement! VOTE GO!!!

MattSeptember 24th 2008.

Written in the hope you'll get a fair number of Mancunians prepared to cut off their nose to spite their face by playing to the chip-on-the shoulder north/south divide ManCon?Let's all spend £5 extra a day getting in to work so the Cockneys will be delayed on The Tube. No thanks.

Kev PSeptember 24th 2008.

Sorry about the capitals, I get over excited.

Neil VandenSeptember 24th 2008.

^^^ The reason the trams were delayed for the Commonwealth Games was nothing to do with "our collective councils" as you put it. It was central goverment dithering over various other shemes around the country. People seem to think the AGMA and GMPTE are putting things in place to harm this city. Trust me it is not in there interest to do that. They know what they are talking about. Not like some people^^^.

GramsciSeptember 24th 2008.

CONGESTION IS NOT REDUCING ANYWAY! This is a myth which people should stop spreading! It's crackers - ask anyone who has tried to get around the city during the rush hour. I was sat for an hour and half trying to get from the city centre to Eccles the other night. It's bad and it's getting worse. Case closed.

BeckaSeptember 24th 2008.

I am not really sure what my opinion is but what i do know is that last year we were told all the works on the Metrolink would make it a better/faster/more reliable service, and 12 months later i've notice sod all. I'd vote yes if i thought it would have arealtime effect on my life. Currently, i have no faith in big business or goverment ideas.

RobSeptember 24th 2008.

I just wish we could get the referendum out of the way and approved, and get on with improving the city's transport. Long-term benefits surely don't need spelling out?

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2008.

What annoys me would be to give the current people that run GMPTE en extra £3bn to flush down the drain. Calling them incompetent is too light a term.I shudder to think how that money would be spent - the waste would be pretty horrific - and for what? We would still be in the same position that thousands of people will still not be in a position to actually use public transport as an alternative.

MattSeptember 24th 2008.

Gary is correct in respect of pricing. It has been made very clear that the prices quoted are correct at 2007 prices. He also has an interesting point – if 80% of people are coming inside the zone do so outside peak time – how is the peak time defined, if not by the number of road users?Why should we pay to fund public transport above and beyond our already obscene levels of taxation? (particularly those on the motorist). Moreover, why are we paying to fund a network we will then be required to pay if we want to use? People here have mentioned improvements, but having seen the proposed “improvements” to the network, I am aghast at where all the money is supposed to be going (or rather isn't) Two extensions to the Metrolink - one to the airport, which I am pretty certain won't be in great demand, and one servicing a narrow corridor to the north and east of the city - which was to have been provided previously, along with other routes (including, I believe, the airport), but were pulled away from us following gross overspending with little or nothing to show for it (something which could easily happen again). Some may also find it irksome that the already decent south Manchester will get yet more improvements while deprived areas are again overlooked (the Eccles line is a joke and was so from planning – a traffic-beating tram that has to sit in traffic as the line has been built down a busy main road – who thought that one up?) Aside from that, we have been given some murky details about "improved" bus services - are these private sector companies really going to take such a philanthropic approach, so at odds with their current approach, when handed a bundle of cash from the government? They are only going to provide such improvements if they provide a profit, and if these improvement ARE profitable (new bus routes etc) why aren't they operating them now? Don't they like making a profit?We're also promised "improved" (there's that word again) rail stations. No new lines - improved stations. How many people decide to drive in to work rather than take the train because they don't like the look of the station!If there was a discernable number of increased routes in to the city of any real use (opening up the old train lines for eg) then I would support this proposal. I do not see that that is the case from the information supplied. It seems to be an astronomical expense (both from government coffers and thereafter our pockets - forever)for very little in return.And ManCon, while I like this website, writing an article so clear on it's intentions, and claiming it is based on "more than rumours" (what?!?!?) is not on.

Artie FufkinSeptember 24th 2008.

I reject the accusation that anyone voting 'no' is being somehoe selfish. Surely voting no is to try and ensure the local economy is not burdened by uneccesary costs which will ultimeately mean huge job costs. In contrast, it is the yes camp who are selfish, they tend to be puiblic sector leaches featehring their nest whilst risking everone elses livelihood.

Simon TSeptember 24th 2008.

Gary, how can you berate the Council for not selling the Airport, which you describe as a "key asset"? It's a "key asset" that's why they're not selling it.

GarySeptember 24th 2008.

With congestion already reducing every year for the last 5 years, is mortgaging Manchester for the next 30 years really needed? A few extra miles of tram, new 'kit' for private businesses, and new stations for people outside Greater Manchester. Not really a fair return for a charge that will be somewhere between £7 and £10 per day for anyone commuting (many of whom have no Public Transport infrastructure available). This is singly greed from the council who refuse to sell a key asset (Manchester Airport) which in itself could pay for the scheme twice over and instead want working people of Manchester to pay....again....and again.....and again....and again.....and again....and again.....and again....and again.....and again. The council have already removed all staff from NCP Manchester Car Parks making them a very unsecure environment, motoring taxes are double what they were less than 10 years ago - and yet the motorist is seen as a viable target for another £2-3000 per year. Add in costs to businesses, uncompetitive positioning for Manchester and a direct penalty to anyone who needs a car.... Boris is welcome to the money.

GarySeptember 24th 2008.

Peter it is an underhand way to get Mancunians to say YES - even if only to stop the Londoners....

Artie FufkinSeptember 24th 2008.

Chalice has a point....The TIF propaganda tell us that Car speeds have slowed within Manchester since 2000.National Statistics show that car usage has reduced 7% within manchester since 2000TIF concludes that to speed up this slowing traffic we must have a congestion charge. Anyone with an ounce of logic would realise that is congestion has increased yet the number of cars has decreased, it is unlikely to be sheer weight of traffic causing the so called congestion. It's something else - poor traffic management is a better conclusion than ruin the local economy.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2008.

Due to the increases in home and car fuel bills I have been forced into getting the bus from mcy home in Ashton down into work in the City Centre as the trains from Ashton are pathetically over-crowded and drop you in the delapidated Victoria Station which is practically in Salford when you work down near the BBC on Oxford Road. What was a 20 minute car journey leaving at 6:50am has become a 50 minute one and although the journey to work is reasonably bearable the trip home is GRIM with buses packed to the rafters and people smoking skunk and blasting music out of their phones all the way up the Old Road. How can the TIF fix that, with a 3 year late Tram system that will probably be as extortionately priced as current routes!? - No thanks!

redbullSeptember 24th 2008.

I think becca hit the nail on the head. All these improvements rest on empty promises made by a government who cant be trusted.look at the politicians in manchester for the conference pretending to be one big happy family whilst hiding the carving knife behind their backs waiting for the chance to stick it in gordon brown. this party is more interested in fighting with each other instead of concentrating on issues. a couple of years ago we were promised the metrolink extension which was swiftly revoked. The same with the super casino. Don't expect this to be any different. I want to see improvements and then we can consider if to have a charge. Theres no point in asking us before we've actually seen the improvements. Once the charge is brought in we don't stand a chance of getting the improvements we deserve because there will be nothing we can do about it. SAY NO(the opinions expressed above are just that- opinions but at least a real working class person has written it unlike most of the tat on this page)

LylaBSeptember 24th 2008.

Lazy whining selfish car drivers - you'll be doing Manchester and environment a favour if you vote yes. Think of the greater good!

YoungSeptember 24th 2008.

Gary you could save the 5/7/10 that you would pay to get into town and also the however much you pay for gym fees just by walking a mile to the nearest bus stop, which would amount to your 30 minutes of exercise a day.I don't understand why people get so miffed with people wanting to vote Yes.The facts are oil prices are set to continue to rise FOREVER as it is generally accepted we are at (or nearly at) peak oil whereby demand outstrips the Earth's remaining oil supplies. The cost of motoring WILL increase much more quickly with this effect AND all the people that have turned down the chance for even the smallest pitiful improvements in public transport in exchange for £2-3000pa will have to pay CONSIDERABLY more as the cost of petrol sky-rockets.I am not trying to convince anyone to vote for congestion charges, but when considering whether things written about it are propaganda or not, try to also take into consideration that we are at as point in time in which or wholesale dependancy on cheap fossil fuels is NO LONGER AN OPTION.

StevenSeptember 24th 2008.

Gramsci - speak for yourself! It takes me LESS time now to get to/from Manchester (from Rochdale) than it took when I started commuting over 8 years ago. I don't experience any congestion on my route, so why should I have to pay for supposed congestion elsewhere (mainly on the M60)?!!?

EmmaSeptember 24th 2008.

Say yes or no...Both arguments are loaded with propaganda. What slays me is how everyone has been sucked into using cars to go distances using weather, carrying heavy bags and their own laziness as an excuse. Think about people two generations ago who mostly didn't have two cars per family or even one car. Instead they used their feet in the sun, rain, snow and wind...or caught a bus or train!

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2008.

Remember to vote NO for a new motoring aimed exclusively at Manchester. It'll do some serious harm to the local economy and is ony going to fund a few miles of Metrolink and some private bus companies.Vote NO or you WILL be paying for it, even if you don't drive a car.

YoungSeptember 24th 2008.

Gary sorry not trying to insult, you seem to be very passionate about the whole matter. I'm also not trying to be a "greeny" nor do I need appeasing. The fact remains though that oil, as a finite resource, is running out. I am suggesting that the reason there has been so much price volatility in the global economy is that it is based on readily available cheap fossil fuels. It is an environmental issue but an economic one. And my point is even a slight improvement now for a little cost is better than waiting 10 years til the Government faces up to having to move away from oil and has to pay substantial amounts to change the whole UK industry and infrastructure is a good idea. Mark my words, if we don't get the money now, it will be a long time until there is any more available

Not Buying the PropagandaSeptember 24th 2008.

Well said Chalice and Artie - I don't think anyone can deny that Manchester's public transport system is in dire need of improvement, but to suggest that we should vote yes for purely this reason is ridiculous! The government (local and central) and the private companies that run various transport facilities have a responsibility to deliver what is needed before they even consider the prospect of asking us to pay for it (which I consider I already do, by paying my taxes and my bus dare).

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