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Congestion Charging: The Empire Strikes Back

Jonathan Schofield on the day a wounded bid showed some muscle

Written by . Published on June 5th 2008.


Congestion Charging: The Empire Strikes Back

Let battle commence. At long last the bidders for Transport Innovation Fund (TIF, aka Congestion Charging) are wiping the rust from their swords.

For the last six months or more the Greater Manchester Momentum Group (GMMG), led by Trafford Centre owners Peel Holdings, have been fighting dirty over TIF. They say the latter is a fat municipal fudge which will make Manchester an economic backwater. They say it will be fail to deliver the transport revolution it intends, saddle the region with a huge debt and push investment elsewhere. They have a lot of allies. By a peculiar coincidence the initials GMMG are very like GMG (Guardian Media Group) which owns the MEN, an organ which seems to broadly favour the group's position.

Now a new body has formed called United City. This is made up of businesses determined to support the local authorities who are equally determined that the bid for the government's £3bn pot of cash will succeed. United City includes shoe giants Timpson and property development companies such as Bruntwood, Ask Developments, Property Alliance and Urban Splash.

Ask Developments' Chief Executive Ken Knott has said: "United City wants to win our bid for a world-class public transport network. We agree with the public authorities that doing nothing is not an option. As highlighted in an independent report, we have created over 50,000 jobs in the last five years and we are forecast to create 210,000 new jobs in the next 15 years, but 30,000 of these future jobs are at risk from congestion." (Confidential is a little unclear about the exact alchemy which produces these figures.)

Knott continues: "Across the world, our major competitor cities, including New York, Singapore, Stockholm and Milan, are taking this issue seriously. We are looking ahead and being realistic and opportunistic."

Chris Ogilsby, head honcho of Bruntwood told Confidential: "We're looking for a transport revolution. It's part of what this city is about. Manchester has always been forward- thinking and pioneering."

Most people know that the truth will lie somewhere between these polar opposites. Britain is too small, the population too stable, and Manchester too important, for the doomsday scenario, while the track (ho,ho) record of British Transport is too bad to realistically expect infrastructure nirvana.

Still, it's good to see the Councils and local businesses coming together to fight the intense negativity of GMMG. The concentration on the words 'congestion charging' by the latter group, when they know the charge is only planned for a short time during morning and evening rush hours, is particularly misleading.

The anti-campaign has occasionally gone too far as well. Peel Holdings' alleged tactics in unseating Roger Jones, a TIF bigwig, from his Salford Council ward at the recent local elections has raised howls of protest. It bore some similarity to one of those unregulated eighteenth century election campaigns, although there was no beating up of opposition voters and doling out of free beer.

The names of the rival groups are laughable of course. The dreary Momentum Group moniker on the one side and the ludicrously popularist United City on the other (surely County Wanderers would have been better as a football analogy?).

The names reflect that, at present, this remains a spat between men in suits (and it mainly is men, sadly) and their idea of what makes for a zappy title. But at least things might get uglier on behalf of both parties. Instead of the anti-side having it all their own way, the pro-side are hitting back, not just through town halls but private enterprise, which is far more credible. This might result in a greater response from the rest of us because, given the scale of TIF, we need to give it serious thought.

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

lrcJune 5th 2008.

I have just come back from New York where the subway costs $2 per journey, regardless of how long. The service is reasonably efficient and much safer than the Manchester tram system (no drunken abusive yobs plaaying rap music on their mobiles and generally harassing commuters!)and is considerably cheaper!!!! The Metro costs me over £5 a day when I have to travel into the city centre.If the money raised on the congestion charge could be diverted to improve the public transport system, then I would support it wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, it appears to be yet another scam to raise money for an already greedy council!

RedJune 5th 2008.

Now Hughesy has signed for Ickle Ciddy... does this now make them our "feeder club"??Sheathmanc... respect!

Kev PJune 5th 2008.

David - Sorry, I don't know why I said 'we' in that way - I'm not involved in any way, other than generally supporting it! Mum - Situations like yours should be taken into account. I personally think people who are car pooling should be either exempt or discounted, but how could anyone keep track of this? Who is to say that the kids aren't all yours?! Everyone could start saying that they were car pooling! It's an issue that should be looked at.

sheathmancJune 5th 2008.

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

JohnJune 5th 2008.

MR - Oh you socialist labour bums get so jealous of those who own things! Don't be so nasty!

Kev PJune 5th 2008.

John - I don't know where you are getting all these 'hard core Labour supporters' who apparently live in the city centre from! If we had a bunch of those we wouldn't have 3 useless Liberal Democrat Councillors in the city centre! Anyway - On the issue of the TIF bid, it is absolutely fabulous news that the YES campaign are finally kicking into gear! So often in cases like with the Regional Assemblies and the EU the negative and misleading opposition campaigns have a much louder voice than the positive campaigns so I hope that they will take this seriously and clear out the myths that have been spouted by the gas guzzling monsters who don't want this to go through. We need to explain to people exactly what this TIF bid will mean and shatter the ridiculous stories that are going around about congestion charging - It is a controlled road pricing scheme designed to combat massive congestion coming into and going out of the city at peak times and will be a great first step in getting more cars off the road and onto the improved public transport that will come with the bid. We should all be praising this, not fighting against it.

JohnJune 5th 2008.

David, I just think you are incredibly naive to be honest, you need to look at the wider picture, as you have no idea about the intention and ambitions of the EU that this looney New Labour government support.Kev P wonders where I'm getting all these figures from about the hard core Labour voters in Manchester City Centre. It's pretty bloody obvious the figures speak for themselves, the support from Labour is massive in Manchester. I come under the ward of Hulme unfortunately being right on the edge of Castlefield and my god you should have seen the numbers who voted for Labour - incredible. Mind you those lot in Hulme are all on benefits so what do you expect :-)

Railway JohnJune 5th 2008.

Political parties are highly unlikely to attempt anything like reverse the rail privatisation fiasco - the only realistic way we can begin to get out of this mess - as there are no real votes in it. Unravelling the mess would only bring us back to a point that we all expected to be at anyway, and so it would appear that the party hadn't made any progess. No votes in that: us voters have short memories. This point we all expect to be at is with a rail service that works as a service, and not a business. It was often said that British Rail lost so much per day, week or year. No, it didn't: it COST so much per year. And none of the money disappeared to shareholders and into inflated directors' pay packets, reward for very little risk.What should really happen is that when each train operating company's "franchises" come to an end, then they should be re-constituted as a publicly-owned company. Like British Rail.In late 2004 (I think), the company that ran the South East franchise had such large problems with ineffectual service (over-crowded trains, cancelled services, bad punctuality, etc), the franchise was taken back into national ownership for about 4 months, when it was run for the benefit of - whisper it - passengers, and not profit. More trains were used, puntuality improved and the cost (subsidy from central govt) dropped dramatically. (See various Private Eyes for a more accurate picture.)

JohnJune 5th 2008.

Hear Hear! Well said!

JohnJune 5th 2008.

Frank, spot on! MCC is desperate for money and will stop at nothing to get it, even it it means causing unrest! Proof of this was seen by MCC's decision to put on big screens and encourage the rangers fans to come down here. The risk assessments carried out would have highlighted HIGH risk of something kicking off and low-and-behold it DID and in style. Costing millions in policing and the clean up operation.MCC were motivated by money on that occasion and they are motivated by the same over congestion charging.This has NOTHING to do with public transport what-so-ever. It's another stealth tax!

SteveJune 5th 2008.

This investment is badly needed and the protests around fuel prices are a signal that things are going to get worse, not better, of we rely on thousands of cars, bumper to bumper, to keep any city moving in the future. Oil production has peaked and we need a cleaner, greener way of getting around. The flat-earthers who are against this proposal simply haven't read the proposals properly...we get a massive investment package, half as a grant, and inreturn there's a charge which is less than London's and which only operates for a few hours. We'd be daft to turn this down...

polkybJune 5th 2008.

Have you noticed that most of the people on here are either property developers or are planning to expand or move their operation sometime soon?It's all well and good now, but in 20 years (with 10 years left on the loan) what do you honestly think the state of Manchesters transport infrastructure will be like? Worse than today I bet.AND when we finish paying the loan back in 30 years, Manchester won't see a single penny of the profits because it all goes to central government.I haven't even mentioned phase two yet...

Mr TJune 5th 2008.

Japan has commuter lanes, more than 1 people in car you use the special lane, camera's track and fine lone drivers that use them. London zones are controlled by cameras that snap number plates and drivers. Surely some of the bajillion cameras looking at incomming traffic into Manchester can be modded to do a similar job to both? Yi know, snap cars with one person in them and charge them more, and give discounts to cars with 2 or more people. Or does that make too much sense and too much like a good idea for our council to consider?

JohnJune 5th 2008.

Scrap the welfare state I say!

SheathmancJune 5th 2008.

Never trust a Hippy!!!!!!!

Milo WizzbangJune 5th 2008.

No congestion charge its that simple!Its just revenue generation.Anybody that thinks it has anything to do with being 'green' is under some delusion! The whole green scenario aspect is very overstated and a lot of people are getting fed up of hearing it time and time again to justify price hikes!!My area is served by publc transport trains and buses. We wont be getting a dedicated tram system however should the trams get up to my neck of the woods it will be on existing railway track were I can already get on a train that will take exactly the same route as the proposed tram.Whose kidding who?I would also like to know who are the exec's and share holders of the proposed companies who will building and running the tram operation.What about the altered 'traffic flow' system in Manchester that it would appear that it has been deliberately alterd to create congestion. Take a look when travelling through Manchester it does nothing to 'flow' the traffic at all, in fact quite the reverse!!!I theres the rub!!!

JohnJune 5th 2008.

Another New Labour marxist drone, paid to spout propaganda!

JanieJune 5th 2008.

I'm one of the people not happy at the prospect of being made to pay a stealth charge to get to work. I drive a small car and would hate to have to resort to public transport as my last forced experience of this resulted in me witnessing a couple of blokes who had drank way too much (at 2pm in the afternoon!), stagger on to the bus and promptly begin to terrorise all the other passengers who just wanted to get to their destination in peach and quiet. The bus drive couldn't do anything as he was single-handed and by the time the problem had been radioed through to the control centre of the bus company, the two idiots had managed to force the door of the bus open but not before threatening to beat up two of the passengers. It's all well and good saying that we need to improve public transport and alleviate the congestion into the city centre but my concern is are the transport providers going to take steps to ensure their passengers are safe? I currently work full-time and hold down a second part-time job that funds the running charges of my car because like most people my wages haven't increased in line with the cost of living and I certainly don't want to have to give up my guaranteed safety unless steps are taken to protect public transport users.

HubertJune 5th 2008.

Do the current proposals say anything about how much (if anything) city centre residents will have to pay?I live (and own parking spaces) within the inner ring road, though I rarely drive. I'm hoping there will at least be a significant discount (like the 90% discount in London) if it happens.

EmmaJune 5th 2008.

Wow URwhingers - what an amazing point you make! So everyone who works in the city centre should live in the city centre, and people who live in the suburbs should work in the suburbs! Why didnt we think of that?! Truly, you must be a master of Anthropology and Demography. Makes perfect sense! Get a grip - look at this with just a little tiny bit of common sense - come on, i know you can do it - it would be physically impossible for everyone who worked in the city centre to live there - not just because of the cost of buying or renting accomodation there, but because there isnt enough room!! Also - cities are generally created by a hotspot of industrial or commercial activity in the centre, surrounded by tertiary industry and spreading out to residential areas. RESIDENTIAL. Where people reside. Still following? How long have you lived and worked in the city centre? City centre living is a relatively new phenomena, as previously living in the immediate centre or surrounding urban sprawl denoted a low standard of living. It's only really in recent years that it has become so popular and expensive to live right in the centre of cities like manchester, as we've embraced this cafe culture lifestyle. Look at any major city in this country, and you will see the centre of industry where a lot of jobs are based, and then the surrounding areas which are residential. Like Manchester. And the suburbs, being the suburbs, are there for residential reasons, not commercial, so exactly where are all the jobs going to come from for all those thousands of people living there? In your flat earth way of thinking my father who came from a working class background and worked damn hard studying as a clinical biochemist, since living in whitefield, shouldnt travel to work at the children's hospital saving lives - oh no - what a stupid idea! Obviously he should get a job at the local post office, or maybe the bakers - then he wouldnt have to use that pesky car anymore! And wow - what a coincidence that all specialists and professionals live right next to where they work!! What are the chances of that?! Well done you - you did make a startlingly great point - have you thought about a career in politics at all?

FrankJune 5th 2008.

How utterly rediculous, petrol is the highest ever, the cost of food is going up, council tax goes up every year, road tax goes up everything is going up - but are wages going up??? No, it is completely rediculous how this country is going and with a congestion charge!I live in Eccles and work in Bolton it takes me 20 minutes to get to work in my car and previously my weekly journy was about £15, it is now nearly £20-25 each week, when 2 years ago I traveled 45 minutes to work each day for £20 a week. To get public transport it takes between an hour and a half to 2 hours to get there at a cost of between £5-9 per day depending what time and what method - am I expected to get public transport!?!?! I dont think so, this is the council money hungry and looking for ways to earn additional money, if public transport was better then maybe but not for this unhappy person!

JanieJune 5th 2008.

I mentioned my earlier comment to some of my work colleagues and they are all of the opinion this is just another tax on the working man. I think they have a point..........

mumJune 5th 2008.

if i take 6 children from differant friends families in my Diesel 4x4 with 7 seats to school every morning from outside the congestion zone into the zone will i get charged the same as a single person who drives into the city in their 4x4? answer is probably yes, even though i have taken 5 other cars off the road.

DrakeJune 5th 2008.

Jeez, how much disinformation there is about the transport bids. Mostly, as the article points out, thanks to the immensely undemocratic actions of Peel Holdings. Was the defeat of Roger JOnes the first time in local elections in the UK that private business poured thousands into unseating someone? How very American. The owner of Peel Holdings, by the way, lives in the Isle of Man and pays feck all tax (and gives nothing back to the city either). The £3bn TIF bid is likely to be confirmed on Monday. The majority of it will be a loan (though whether MCC will still be able to get a loan at decent rates in the current climate will be interesting), and it will be dependent on introducing some form of congestion charge. The transport improvements (and those that are planned are massive) will have to come before the introduction of the charge in 2012--13. So you will have plenty of times to use your democratic votes against it in the meantime. THe current plan for the charge is for short slots of charging in the morning and evening at peak rush hours. What then needs to be done is companies think about more flexi-time, and MCC think about making the city more attractive to be in at different times, so that it doesn't necessarily apply. Its astonishing the concentration on the fairly small charge (and it is compared to what will be enforced elsewhere) rather than the likely massive improvements in the transport infrastructure over the next four-five years. (and anyone who thinks Manchester isn't congested presumably isn't allowed sharp objects wherever he's kept...). The LibDems are most amusing--in favour of congestion charging nationwide, but not in Manchester. *ouch, that fence hurts*

JohnJune 5th 2008.

Well what a surprise - Manchester Confidential are supporters of Congestion Charging and between the lines of reporting here, this article says just that. If this evil marxist government get their way, I shall be selling my apartment in the City Centre and I'm outta here! I'm not putting up with that crap, I pay over £14,000 a year in tax (ex. stealth taxes) as it is. Enough is enough!

JohnJune 5th 2008.

Ollie just for the record, I drive a little run around (VW Polo) that's all I need. Sorry to disappoint those pathetic socialist greenies like Jane who carry a conception that high rate tax payer like me, drives a gas guzzler - so there!

anon123June 5th 2008.

Yes no doubt, funny isn't it, you'd of thought they would have tried to sort out our benefits system first, loads of money to be saved there....

AnonymousJune 5th 2008.

Until there is decent public transport alternative which is safe, timely, reasonably priced and available. then it is obviously unfair to have an extra Poll tax on workers coming into manchester. Note, one of the side effects of congestion charging in london is that londoners who are inlow paid support work, cannot afford to work within london. they rely instead on huge numbers of temp migrant workers.

ollieJune 5th 2008.

revenue from a congestion charge will never be spent on improving public transport. how anyone can think otherwise is just plain naive. have you learned nothing from the last 10 years of labour rule. Does my higher car tax improve the condition of roads? No, they are in a worse state than ever. Does revenue from speed cameras improve safety? No, it buys more cameras. Has the obscene tax on petrol done anything at all? Apart from causing protests, complaints and go slows as well as hammer the final nail in browns coffin? As for janes comments about paying for the privaledge of using congested roads. I think john did that with the v.a.t when he bought the car. The road fund tax he pays yearly and the council tax that he pays monthly and the fuel tax that he is probably paying daily when he fills up his oversized gas guzzler.I will never give up my car. I will just earn more money so i can buy myself a Massive Hummer and drive round Manchester City Centre on my Own. Long Live The Car.

JohnJune 5th 2008.

Emma, a very good post, very well conveyed indeed! As long as we have a government that supports an over inflated public sector and a very generous welfair state for those that bum around, then your always gonna get this.Your banging your head against a brick wall with your comments though because a lot in these necks of the woods are big lefty labour voters or brain washed greenies (like the voting figures show) who take the government's side over environmental issues and such like.If the labour lot in Manchester were like Eskimos, this New Labour government could sell them Ice in a shot!

MarieJune 5th 2008.

The congestion charge does not just cover the city centre but a large surround area. My house is on a key route in and out of the city but 20min drive from the centre. I would be in the congestion charge area. has any research been done regarding the effect of house prices etc. I know for on I wouldn't purchase my current house again if the charge was in place. Its ok arguing that the charge is only for "limited time frames" but where is the guarentees regarding that and it will not just be another money making scheme that ultimately damages the city through reducing house prices, effecting business and damaging peoples pockets.

JohnJune 5th 2008.

The only narrow minded person I see here is yourself Graham. With your pro-government propaganda crap!

OvertaxedJune 5th 2008.

United City are idiots - the majority of the £3bn is a LOAN - not a grant. Do you think for one minute that the Transport will improve? The money will be pocketed by the Labour Council and you won't see any improvements at all. Labour know how to tax, but certainly not how to invest. Motorists are fed up being the Governments cash cow.

SheathmancJune 5th 2008.

blah!

SteveJune 5th 2008.

If this stunt was carried on across the region every day for 30 days then you might turn some political heads.Otherwise its just a waste of time (and petrol ironically).

HippyJune 5th 2008.

Make mine a veggie pastie!!!!!!!!

BobbyJune 5th 2008.

The only way, ever, to get the great british public on masse to do something is to hit them where itr hurts the most - the wallet.Its a necessary evil

ollieJune 5th 2008.

i love it how people actually think that another tax is a good thing. how exactly? they have this idealistic view that once they start charging there will be a miraculous vanishing of cars and congestion. whilst simultaneously an overnight extension of tram lines with brand new trams, with lots of room, that are clean, reliable, safe and cheap start operating. its never going to happen. look at this fiasco with the helicopters the government ordered, the trams we order will have the wrong computers installed, or they wont fit on the tracks, they'll sit empty for several years whilst there is a multi million pound public investigation into whos fault it is.

Captain BirdseyeJune 5th 2008.

Bring back National Service I say!!!

MRJune 5th 2008.

*laughs at the thought of John trying to sell his apartment!*I reckon if you knock at least 50% off you'll stand a chance!!!ha ha ha!!!

anon123June 5th 2008.

And so the MPs don't miss out on any of their expenses...Ahem...

Jeremy ClarksonJune 5th 2008.

And I think it's actually bloody brilliant that we've got local politicians who can see beyond tomorrow tea time and realise that we need a radical plan for transport. Simon, I just cancelled out your negative, short sighted vote!

AnonymousJune 5th 2008.

Aha, So you concede that you were the lone voter for Conservatives in Hulme whilst 214 others voted for someone else?

RachelJune 5th 2008.

I agree with adam, we need to get some sort of Oyster card system and standardised charging (and also quality) system within the city. This works so well in London and if we get the congestion charge here surely that should be reflected in the improvement of alternative transport services.

Anthony McCaulJune 5th 2008.

Lets take the gloves off and hear more from the pro camp. The GMPTE campaign so far has been rubbish in spelling out what transport improvements would mean and the no camp keep spouting on about a congestion charge without people having real info about what is involved. FOR THE RECORD City Centre residents WOULD NOT have to pay to go to work in the morning driving out of the City Centre and WOULD NOT have to pay coming back in either. The charge is only in operation at peak morning and evening times travelling into, and then leaving the City Centre (and not at weekends.) If the TIF Bid is successful it will mean £3 Billion worth of public transport improvements including new metro lines, 90+ new train carriages to ease unacceptable overcrowding and a fleet of environmentally friendly buses better serving communities across Greater Manchester. With something so important and radical people need to really think about this and be given a proper say - with facts not just hyperbole. Personally I'm all for it - the benefits would revolutionise our transport system and it would be win win for our environment too.

JohnJune 5th 2008.

There is no doubt in my mind that MPs will be exempt from congestion charging, or at least able to claim it back on expenses at our expense - how ironic! :)

JohnJune 5th 2008.

Smitty, they won't give you a say because they know it will be voted against! Just like the EU Constitution - same thing applies!The the people of Manchester (who support congestion charging) should take a look at London and the surrounding Home Counties. Now that's far more congested than Manchester (I know I lived there 8 years.) Manchester is NOT congested at all, at many friends of mine who have visited Manchester, say also!Anyway, New Labour are finished (Hurray) just a matter of time now before they are kicked out, however I would like to know the views of what will highly likely be a Tory administration taking over. What do they think about it all? Will they commit to scrapping the idea?

RedJune 5th 2008.

Sheathmanc “ Never trust a Hippy”How true my friend; before you know it the tree hugging Hippy freak will be sitting down protesting (and peacefully) about some other stupid thing that nobody cares about; like Animal testing or against building New Roads etc... There always sticking their beak into something or other them lot!!

GrahamJune 5th 2008.

Phil, so you'd rather take a job in Alty if you lived in Stretford for the sake of £1 each way, two quid a day, and miss out on all the life, restaurants, bars, shops, architecture, museums, galleries, culture for a place with one amateur theatre? You lunatic. Also if you lived in Stretford you could get the bus or tram, forget the congestion charge and have a drink at night. Or you cycle and get off your lazy smug rancourous arse. The city is showing vision here, not the narrow-minded view you have.

SteveJune 5th 2008.

What kind of argument is 'long live the car'??? Have we got crackpot Clarkson blogging on Confidential? Come clean!!

Kev PJune 5th 2008.

I LOVE the term champagne socialist! What on EARTH does it mean?! I wish I could afford to be drinking champagne all the time! I think you need to go and rejoin the other pod people John!

URWhingersJune 5th 2008.

I live in the city centre for a reason, cos I work here. If you don't like spending your hard earned dosh comutting to work, go get a job near where you live!! Then you won't have to pay lots of money on petrol and congestion charges, or sit in queues of trafic. All you drivers created this problem yourselves, by driving everywhere in your cars, usually with just the one of you in there. I don't like sitting in traffic jams, so I live near work. I think petrol and driving is expensive, so I don't drive. Simple! You don't have a right to cheap transport, you don't have a right to drive everywhere. You chose to live outside manchester and work in manchester!

RedJune 5th 2008.

Eh Stevo, you need to chill baby; getting worked up in such a way, i'm sure wouldn't do too much for your blood pressure. Now, get down to Greggs and treat yaself to a nice Meat and tater!!

adam baldock-appsJune 5th 2008.

i would support the congestion charging, if it meant we would get a oyster card type system with standardised (affordable) charging across the city region.

malcolm GJune 5th 2008.

Sort it Gill.

SheathmancJune 5th 2008.

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah!!!!

JennieJune 5th 2008.

I agree with David. I would be happy to support the congestion charge as long as better public transport is delivered FIRST. I use the train every week day to travel into Manchester from Greenfield (Saddleworth). The train takes 25 minutes compared to over an hour in the car in rush hour (unfortunately we don't have flexi hours where I work as yet). The train is great when it runs on time and when its not packed to the rafters. However it runs late on virtually every journey, there are not enough trains each hour, they don't run early enough in the morning or late enough at night, and many a time going home you cannot even get on the train due to the numbers of people trying to use the service. Also, the cost is pretty steep (although still cheaper than driving and paying for parking). Bring on the tram, get it running properly, then introduce the charges, only when we have a safe, affordable, frequent and reliable alternative.

AnonymousJune 5th 2008.

Would these public transport improvements be made before the congestion charge is imposed Anthony?I live in Irlam and have been waiting many years to see promised improvements to the significant congestion problem in this area, to no avail.I would be all for a congestion charge being brought in once these improvements have been put into place, but as they are likely to take years to take effect (if at all) until then a congestion charge will only cause to effect those already struggling to make ends meet - not everyone who lives in Manchester can afford it Jane.

polkybJune 5th 2008.

If the GM councils had any balls, they'd do what Birmingham did and tell them where to go regarding CON taxes, but still get the money out of them.

JohnJune 5th 2008.

that 1 amongst 214 others actually :-)

DavidJune 5th 2008.

Kev P - Well I guess by your use of the word "We" that you are actually involved in this scheme somehow and if so yes, YOU certainly do need to explain to people what this TIF bid will mean and more to the point - what exactly the proposals are for the Scheme as a whole as there is a shroud of secracy around this that only fuels the anger people feel.

JohnJune 5th 2008.

LOL :-)

Conspiracy ConcubineJune 5th 2008.

polkyb, most people are already trackable to within a few meters 24 hours a day. Mobile phones report locations all the time, yeah privacy laws stop the gov't from having it plugged in to some tracking software but all it takes is access to a certain computer system and bip bip, there you are, a flashing numbered dot on a map.

Milo whizzbangJune 5th 2008.

Jinkies how right you are!An illegal war at that!For what?Oh yeah, the oil 'rights' for the U. S. Of A.

ollieJune 5th 2008.

it was a statement, not an arguement.

JohnJune 5th 2008.

Well Jane, I wonder how much New Labour paid you to spout such brain washed rubbish? :-)Realistically I should expect such comments as this, as most people in Manchester City Centre are brain washed hard core Labour voters. The living proof of this is seen as a result of the latest local elections that saw no shift in support for Labour, when the results show across the country that the majority of everyone else is disenchanted by them. It's no surprise, there's people like you coming out with rubbish like this....

Emma, WhitefieldJune 5th 2008.

Ok.........sorry for the rant!!!And....breathe............!

SamJune 5th 2008.

There's bound to be a national road charge in a few years anyway so this would mean we'd be ahead of the game wouldn't it?

DavidJune 5th 2008.

John - .. Brain Washed Idiots? We aren't the ones thinking there is some conspiracy involving the Chinese and the congestion charge - I think you may have been on the waccy baccy !!!!!!

Juicy LucyJune 5th 2008.

NO I DO NOT WANT ANOTHER CHARGE ONTOP OF A HUNDRED OTHERS. I think this charge if imposed could seriously effect manchester residents and business alike. Northerners will find somewhere else to go, somewhere else to stay. Just fine all the drink drivers twice as much and put it toward public transport. Rant over!

PhilJune 5th 2008.

I am really looking forward to the charge. It will stop people (me included) from going to Manchester and Altrncham, Sale and Stockport centres will flourish. Also, more companies moving out of the centre as they will not be able to get the staff. i.e. You live in Stretford for example and get two job offers both the same salary. One in Manchester, one in Alty. Which one would you take

JohnJune 5th 2008.

Many of you may not be aware that, further congestion charge schemes were not seriously on the cards for cities like Manchester, until China pulled out of willing to fund the launch and operation of the EU satellite Galileo, the EU commission then set about plan B which means the (EU) tax payer must fund it. National governments (like our own) were under pressure to find the funding for their contributions and so Congestion Charging is their way of doing so. For the EU, it kills two birds with one stone as it also fits in line with proposed EU wide traffic management strategies during the next decade and beyond.This government do not want you to know the real truth behind this and will play the environment and public transport card in order to attempt to win over support from the public!Any fool can see, money will NOT go into improving public transport in Manchester! Time will of course tell, but I want to be the first to say "I told you so!"

StevoJune 5th 2008.

Why dont you all just take a walk and shed some of the pies that are giving you an attitude!

polkybJune 5th 2008.

Railway john - Outstanding idea. Same should go for buses. The other thing about this TiF bid that grates is that we (the people of Manchester) will be buying new rolling stock for all the PRIVATE bus, train and tram operators in the GM area. Shouldn't they be buying their own? If they can't be bothered to reinvest in their own busines, then why should Manchester go into debt to the tune of £1,800,000,000.00 to bail them out! Don't say to improve services, because we'll be replacing not adding to their current stock. Hands up who thinks Stagecoach and first will post recoed profits if this goes ahead.

LeeJune 5th 2008.

URWhingers - I don't think it's relevent to say people should work near where they live. People can change jobs every two to five years and you can't movehouse that often if you own somewhere, plus as part of a couple you can double that frequancy. The job market is also competative; it's not as easy as saying "I live in Stockport and I'm a journalist, they have one paper and two magazines so I'll obviously work for one of those!"Many people have to commute, and it does us good to rant about it too!

northendenJune 5th 2008.

I couldnt agree more with the short sighted sentiments on trainline closure. I also think that the state of the general public/youth lack of respect that we have in this country at the moment is enough to get people off public transport.I'm buying a bike, buying in bulk and shopping at aldi....as pointed out above fuel/tax/council tax/raod tax/food costs are all spiralling and we have no tangible salary increase to cover some of these....where will it end, an article the other day suggested that fuel costs would only drop if demand dropped......sweet baby jesus....we're doomed....If we had a decent police service that could act, not these community traffic warden people, a national service that groomed respect, a transport network that was viable and affordable and not privatised, a clear and transparent taxation system, a working council that didnt decide to break out (add on) charges for commercial waste collection on top of council tax for commercial property, sun all year round, a never ending supply of red wine and nice food.....we'd be happy.This country needs someone to take it by the scruff of he neck, sack the human rights bs that gets spouted every ten minutes, and get us back on track becuase at this rate the migration stats that everyone ignores will soon see us abandonded by all

Kev PJune 5th 2008.

Aah, you live in Hulme John? I was wondering who that one person who voted for the tories was!

Anthony McCaulJune 5th 2008.

Anonymous Irlam - sorry should have added that the plans are for the charge to be brought in AFTER the majority of the major public transport improvments have been put in place, around 2012/13. I wouldn't support a charge if the majority of the public transport improvments weren't in place before. People have to be taken along on this if it's to succeed and get cars off the road, improve the environment and air quality and change behaviour.

polkybJune 5th 2008.

Kev P, David, ease up guys. He's actually very close to being right on the ball. Europe as a whole are intending to monitor the precise location of every car on EUROPEAN roads within the next 10-15 years. They even have a website set up to facilitate local councils in their quest to force monitoring onto the general population. It's sinister and it completely removes any kind of freedom that the motorist used to have... For example, do you think they'll stop monitoring your cars satelite tag simply because you aren't near a charging point?

DavidJune 5th 2008.

John - all I can say is ...Sweet Mary mother of Jesus - what on earth are you on about. Do you realise you can access information on the Councils accounts and spending. Of course the money will go on improving transport - it is necessary for the whole future sustainability of the ecomony - transport was one of the single most important factors in the industrial revolution you know. Unless they are going to spend it on the procurement of a Stargate and introduce a Manchester SG21 team !!!

simonJune 5th 2008.

i agree with all the anti congestion charge sentiments expresed here. For the record i was a labour voter but no more. Manchester will be an economic desert post charging. Taxpayers saddled with debts and extra cost for the privilege of working. I for one will vote for an anti-cogestion charging candidate in future council elections. Unless the councils across Greater Mnachester listen i suggest other people do the same.A

RedJune 5th 2008.

Who the hell allowed a bloody Hippy onto these pages??

JinkiesJune 5th 2008.

Everyone that voted labour has the blame for the current situation at their feet. What did you expect? Labour promised more spending on education, health, everywhere, then they took us to war (which of course is quite expensive). The only way to pay for all the above is to raise taxes and reduce spending in other areas, so councils have to make the shortfall up themselves, hence things like congestion charging, it's about filling the councils coffers and giving them the money they need to run the city - and this situation has come about because of the labour goverment so many foolish people voted for.

RobbJune 5th 2008.

Exactly where do they get the figure of 220000 new jobs? and where exactly are all these workers and their families going to live? They will not be living in Greater Manchester as they will be moving to places where they are not penalised for going to work.And as for GMMG unseating Roger Jones, what a load of rubbish. He was unseated because the voters saw the reality of the toll plans and his refusal to listen to them. Let's get rid of Leesy next!

GaryJune 5th 2008.

No-one disputes the need for the Public Transport investment - but why mortgage manchester for 20 years AND Tax people upto £2000 per year of their already overtaxed GROSS wages?The answer is clearly to sell an obvious council asset that generates a miniscule amount of revenue for the region but who's sale would pay for the infrastructure improvements twice over. The Asset? Manchester Airport Group. Even just selling the non-North-West Airports in the Group would pay for the amount required.The Council are already looking after their own by providing free parking and subsidies to employees to ENCOURAGE car use.........AND.....why are the only businesses that speak out in favour of the charging, one who are hugely connected to the Council? i.e. Property Companies who would commit commercial cuicide by not siding with the council.Its a farce - using congestion/the environment as an excuse to tax people more and more.

JohnJune 5th 2008.

Good Grief... David, Kev P.... Brain washed idiots is all I can say! You champaign socialists have bin at the bubbly again!

jonesroJune 5th 2008.

Public transport in Greater Manchester is broadly in line with other major cities such as Leeds,Birmingham,Liverpool,Newcastle and Sheffield but it is still a long way behind London. We need £3,000 million to be spent in the next five years to revolutionise public transport and then it is worth paying the price of peak time congestion charging to be introduced in 2013.TIF must succeed !!

JaneJune 5th 2008.

Well, John, if you pay that much in taxes, I'd say you can afford it. Why should those who can afford to drive their often oversized, often gasguzzling cars not pay for the priveledge to congest the roads? If you live in the city centre, you shouldn't have to worry too much about this peak-time road use charge. Or is the fact that you can't bear the idea of Manchester leading the way once again & taking responsibility for successful groundbreaking new schemes to improve public life?

Emma, WhitefieldJune 5th 2008.

I think the basic fact of the matter, whether money will be used to re-invest in the cities transport system or not (Im guessing not - cynicism developed from years of dissapointment in the way this country is going to the dogs), is that a lot of people literally can't afford another tax on their wages. We already pay substantially higher taxes on pretty much everything than anyone else in europe, and the average peron literally can not afford anything else!! As a young homeowner living alone, my outgoings are ridiculous - and I've actually had to move jobs recently because I simply couldn't afford the petrol to get to work anymore - I earn a decent wage for my age, but the cost of living is just ridiculous in this country. I live in Whitefield and work in Hyde - I don't know all the specifics of the planned charges, but if I had to pay anymore to get to work each day, then I literally could not afford it - I'd be getting into debt to get to work! This country is ridiculous - you are penalised for being a hard working employed individual, who sticks to the right side of the law and works hard for what they have. Become a doley and let everyone else pay for you, or maybe just stab someone and go to prison - 3 square meals a day and Sky TV! I've had many experiences of people who choose not to work who have a better quality of life than I can afford after I've paid all my bills and for my petrol etc. How is that right?! Please - somebody tell me, as I'm dying to know?! When I first left uni I worked in a government funded scheme aimed at regenerating areas of Manchester and Salford by providing training opportunities and help in to employment. I literally had these doley scum laughing in my face - I'd worked hard to get myself an education and to get into a career - and they were earning more than me on benefits. Who's the mug?! The average person works their arse off 9-5, pays to drive to or from work (or if they get public transport, brave the wrath of the doley scum who've been in the pub all day - again - who's the mugs?!),just to be able to scrape a living, because the bastard government then taxes us on every single thing we earn, buy or do! And then, when the poeple who have worked hard to provide a future for their families die, they get taxed on everything they leave behind!!! It makes a mockery of our entire country - we basically work to support the generations of people who can't be arsed. And I'm not talking about immigration, as so many people like to blame all our problems on that - healthy immigration is a good thing for our society, if it means people coming into this country and willing to work hard and contribute, without draining the social system of all of it's resources. Our big problem is the culture of laziness and lack of respect for the society in which we lives, and that comes from within, from generations of people who think it's normal to do sod all with their lives whilst everyone else picks up the tab. What we need is a social reform in this country and a severe look at the 'hand out' society in which we live. We need to look at how other countries deal with these problems and look for solutions - otherwise the bill of the normal, hard working person is just going to rise and rise and rise until we go into a complete decline.

DavidJune 5th 2008.

I really couldn't agree more that the public transport sytem requires considerable investment and given the chance I would always use public transport but for some people such as myself, (living in Rossendale and commuting to Manchester on a daily basis) there is no reasonable public transport available. Yes we have the X43 bus but then to get another bus home from Rawtenstall is unbearable at the end of a long day. An appealing alternative is what is needed, not charges to drive to the city centre. If the council dedicated more bus lanes to make bus transport faster than by car, this would encourage people to use the bus. This country was so short sighted when closing the vast railway network that built our country, these have lay unused for decades, Rossendale used to have a train service to London but these were closed down and left to rot. The tram network requires expansion and this could be done by rebuilding the old railways but put these in place before charging commences, it is unfair to charge us without providing a viable alternative.

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