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Congestion Charging: fiddled questions, distorted propaganda and secrecy

Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley, thinks nothing in the Transport Innovation Fund bid makes sense

Published on November 7th 2008.

Congestion Charging: fiddled questions, distorted propaganda and secrecy

The plain truth about the congestion charge is that nobody knows the truth.

The congestion charge was the centrepiece of the 315 page Transport Innovation Fund bid made by the ten authorities of Greater Manchester in July 2007.

Part of this bid was made public more than 12 months later by the Passenger Transport Executive.

However, the whole of Chapter 10 containing most of the financial detail is not to be seen on the PTE website.

What have they got to hide?

It makes running a fair and balanced referendum impossible if the voters do not have the facts and have to rely on propaganda from local authorities and the YES campaign.

Sir Neil McIntosh, the unimpressive Returning Officer does not appear to have all the information.

When he was asked twice at a meeting with Greater Manchester MPs, how he could validate the public information and the preamble that will accompany the referendum ballot papers, he had no answer.

However, this did not stop him being very definite, that the congestion charge should not be part of the referendum question.

He took advice only from the promoters of the scheme, refusing to speak with or meet opponents before coming to the perverse conclusion to leave out the most controversial element of the package.

His reputation is in tatters.

Even more extraordinary, the bid which is in the name of Councillors from across Greater Manchester has not been seen by those Councillors. In fact, one Manchester City Councillor, when he requested to look at the document, got a point blank refusal from the officials. When he offered to sign a confidentiality agreement he was still refused.

Only the promoters of the scheme know the financial details. The Returning Officers, Councillors and the public are all to get the mushroom treatment and be kept in the dark.

What we do know is that the promoters have, in Alan Clark’s famous phrase, ‘been economical with the actualite’.

They claim that traffic in Greater Manchester has increased by 20%, whereas their own figures from Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Unit show that when you take motorways out of the equation, the traffic has decreased.

They claim only one in ten people will have to pay this new tax but a Populus survey shows that one third of households in Greater Manchester will have to pay.

They claim that if there is a NO vote, investment in public transport will not take place. However, most of the extensions to the tram system will happen anyway. The Prime Minister has made it clear that if there is a NO vote, Government will look at alternative schemes, and remember, Secretary of State after Secretary of State for Transport have told the House of Commons that the congestion charge is not necessary to get money for the trams.

They claim improved bus services and control of bus fares. We know that the buses remain deregulated and only the bus companies will be able to determine bus fares and routes.

Do you trust First Group and Stagecoach to stop exploiting the travelling public of Greater Manchester? I don’t.

They claim £3 billion of investment in public transport. Closer inspection shows that more than £1billion is earmarked for the congestion charging kit and contingency.

We also know that Council Tax will increase when the congestion charge starts as thousands of council vehicles will have to pay. That’s bad enough but I think the real reason for secrecy is that the scheme doesn’t add up. There is a huge financial hole in the project which the people in the know don’t want to admit to.

There are only two ways of dealing with this financial deficit, either introduce special congestion charging circles around Bolton, Stockport and other districts, as was originally planned or everybody in Greater Manchester will have to pay an even higher Council Tax.

This is why we have a fiddled question, distorted propaganda and secrecy.

It is simply unacceptable in a modern democracy that people are being asked to decide on a new tax for Greater Manchester which is expected to raise £9 billion without knowing all the facts.

If the authorities don’t take the honest and straightforward action of releasing all the relevant information, then the only rational response to their manipulation and arrogance is to stop them and vote NO.

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

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

Artie I think I have mt facts pretty clear thank you and statements like 'will not add one train, bus or tram to the network' are simply ludicrous. I suggest YOU actually sit down and read the detailed 24 page document sent out to every household, or visit http://www.gmfuturetransport.co.uk and spend more time reading and less time shooting your mouth off about proposals you clearly don't have any grasp of.

don leese don bernsteinNovember 7th 2008.

THE DONS .we may have some business for you with the two wise guys earlier.Wayne Tylderley and Artie Fufkin they look tired and maybe need some rest.Perhaps you could arrange a little holiday for these guys?TIF fundinding in the post.

PaulNovember 7th 2008.

The whole thing is an absolute joke and just goes to show what a sorry state this country is in.Half the people affected by this won't even be able to vote on it because they live outside the 'correct' postocde - Has nobody realised that most of South manchester is under a WA postcode? THe only people that should be allowed to vote are those who it will actually affect - ie those of us in work who will have to pay it and not the old grannies who'd just like the buses to be nice and quiet when they go to get thier pension.I urge all intelligent residents of our region to vote no and show this pathetic attempt at a government who's boss.THE CHARGE IS SHEER STUPIDITY - VOTE NO!

johnNovember 7th 2008.

Mr Stringer.Perhaps you'd like to give us an alternative to the TIF funding package please. You obviously have all the answers.Perhaps you can also tell us when Mr Brown and the DFT are going to hand over £2bill for further transport improvments if and when the referendum is lost without any strings attached.(Brown and the Government said they would look at the TIF package again. There are no guarantees we will get any further funding. If we do, there will still be strings attached)You ask a lot of questions Mr Stringer, but 'never' have I heard you come up with any alternatives. Another typical Anti.A question for you mr Stringer. Please can you tell me how many construction jobs will be created by TIF in these times of mass unemployment, espcially in the construction industry.(here's a clue, hundreds) BTW. How's the House of Commons Bar these days? Can I have a look at your bar bill and expense claims. What about all the perks you get. I sincerely hope you've declared everything? I will be checking.

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

Kevin Peel, go through the full document and add up the amount of money to be invested in actual transport delivery improvements.[ Do not include the items that are going ahead anyway. Do not make up metrolinks to Stockport.You will find these come to just over £1bn. Even within this figure, much could be created organically anyway, buses would aturally be replaced, bus stations (transport interchanges (sic))are built throughout the country as part of private developments without costing the tax-payer a penny so I wonder why they are costed so high. The much vaunted school bus projec is very good but why does it cost so much? When I went to school, we had about 20 buses picking up the brats every afternoon without such a financial burden. If TIF want to throu so much money at school buses, I'll happily set up a company and charge half the cost and still be a millionaire overnight.

PolkyNovember 7th 2008.

" Even the no campaign has finally acknowledged there is a serious congestion problem, perhaps they didn't brief you properly before you posted?"erm... No they haven't. They recoooognised that through government policy of increasing road furniture and restricting traffic flow, that congestion has been increased, however, AGMAs own reports show conclusively that the amount of traffic commuting to Manchester has decreased. The NO campaign wouldn't say anything other than that. What you have to ask yourself is What *IS* Congestion? I would say that it's more than badly timed traffic lights causing a few queues. If I go to manchester (from Oldham) and back at 8.15am it takes 5 minutes longer than at 8.15pm... 5Minute lost to "congestion" is something I'm prepared to pay for... £5 a day (2007 prices) I am definately NOT.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

The only thing this exercise does is to reafirm how corrupt our so called leaders are, and how they really shouldn't be in a position of power having been to the Sarah Palin school of leadership.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

I suppose it's better than the GoManchester site where their poll has only one response button.

LauraNovember 7th 2008.

I'm a 'NO' person and I used my name!Kev, I think that comment is demonstration of your "read the bits that suit you and ignore the rest" mentality!

real world galNovember 7th 2008.

Graham Stringer is standing up for the Manchester people he was elected to represent. The hidden figures mean then none of us can know what we are voting for. Can all the people in support really hand on heart say that they know how this scheme is going to be financed and paid for? The ‘only one in ten’ will pay propaganda being spurted by the yes campaign is indefensible. The ‘one’ person is likely to be the single parent dropping their kids at school before work or the low paid worker who doesn’t have direct or even an indirect way to get to their job via public transport. I am all in favour of better public transport but for this to happen it needs to be regulated and not at the expense of the people who have no other option but to use their cars at peak times.

DavidNovember 7th 2008.

Let us be frank about this. Manchester City Council have illegally witheld a document from a Councillor. If what Graham Stringer is saying is right then who was this Councillor and why are not more Councillor's asking for this document? It really is suspect.As for the bid, the majority of people have not read it. It is not 3 billion pounds of investment, it will not reduce traffic and the bus companies will make a killing on this. The rich will still be able to drive into town, just like in London and the rich will continue to benefit from this.You can be sure that Leese and Bernstein will still be driving into town.This is a fight for the poor as much as for the city of manchester. Vote NO to this unfair tax. A tax for the poor.....

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

I was told by a member of Salford City Council staff that SCC have employed a external consultant to worsen congestion in the run up to the referendum, in order to influence the vote.

Robert MugabeNovember 7th 2008.

Oi.......even we're not as crooked as that!!!!

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

Oh, only 3 extensions connecting 3 of the regions major towns to the centre of Manchester and all the points in between? *shakes head in a sarcastic manner*

Milo Whizz BangNovember 7th 2008.

What happens if the congestion charging does reduce traffic numbers and it does not produce sufficient revenue to repay the debt?When travelling through many major cities on the continent I've noticed that during the busy periods the traffic light schemes are changed to enable traffic to flow freely along the main routes and are timed to ensure that to benefit from the system motorists have to travel at the correct speed limit. This coupled with adequate car parking facilities vastly reduces congestion and has been in operation successfully in these continental cities for many, many years. Why can't we do the same in Manchester?If the idea of congestion charging is so damn good how is it we are all not queing up to accept it?My Daughter works in the City Centre of Manchester it will cost her dearly.On her already over taxed wages the cost of parking, the grossly over taxed fuel charges she has to pay and Road fund licence.I can see a mass exodus of cars leaving Manchester after 6.30 in the evening to avoid the charge. Result CONGESTION!!How long before the time of the charge is moved to accomodate this?Shove the congestion charge proposals up were the Sun dont shine.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Wow, it's like the libel laws were never invented...

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Kevin, you seem to overlook that fact that Artie is a City Centre restauranteur.... Surely he *must* be for the scheme given all the benefits you proport? (or has he not had his brown envelope yet?)

dave in townNovember 7th 2008.

has anyone noticed that the student on the vote YES campaign has one massive eye and one tiny eye - very disturbing.mosely street last monday was absolutely chocker the whole length with buses - clearly what we need is more buses and to tax car drivers even more... reliable, effecient public transport please - no additional taxation thanks

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Linzi - "The buses are being re-regulated as Graham well knows." - Where did you hear that particular gem? It's a complete fabrication! The buses are NOT being re-regulated. GMPTE will be given SLIGHTLY more powers to control the bus companies but they will NOT be owned by the public as the were before 1986.

scoteeeNovember 7th 2008.

Anonymous, For the record I will be voting “No”. I live in Wilmslow and use the train every day to get to the Centre. I don't find it unreliable at all. How would you know about the reliability if you use the car all the time? Additionally where on earth can you be living in Wilmslow that is more than a mile to the train station (12 mins walk)?Your first point didn’t suggest that you needed your car for business and perhaps in this case, you should plan your days better and contribute better to the environment. I would also like to point out that if the length of journey to the centre is of a concern you must be mistaken .Wilmslow to the city centre is 10 miles tops and if you can do it in just over 6 minutes (1/4 of the 27 minute train journey), then at an average speed of 93 miles an hour yes I stand by my original comment, as I think most of us would ...”get a fu***ng bus you smart arse”!!

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

If congestion charge comes in there is over 40 jobs going at our works.This is because another tax burden on companies.It might be an idea if we paid all OUR wages to the goverment to save time and costs and in return they could give us bus passes and food vouchers and as a treat a bar of chocolate.How can people just sit back and pay yet another tax.The next thing they will have to put a tax on bus fares to pay for the massive loan that we cant pay back.You have other countries supplying oil,gas and own our premier league clubs,which country is going to supply and own the trams and buses.DEMOCRACY i think they had better look upthe meaning in the dictionary.Give all the facts out not just what you want us to know.You will be next.WIGAN STOCKPORT. vOTE NO NO NO NO NO

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

How can anyone make a reasoned judgement on this bid if all of the key financial facts have been censored? In addition, some people think they've read the TiF proposal, when all they have really done is read he YES propoganda... The TiF document is huge and is available from AGMA, less the important financial info, of course.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Nice to see Graham Stringer standing up for the 50% plus of his constituents who can't afford to run a car and rely on public transport, for the least well-off drivers in the other 50% who would prefer not to have to waste thousands of pounds a year on owning a car just so they can get to work because there isn't a decent public transport alternative, and for all his constituents whose lives are blighted by traffic and air pollution, and whose kids are twice as likely as the national average to have asthma as a result. Well done, Graham!

Phil BurkeNovember 7th 2008.

I don't think people realise just how important the TFI bid is to the whole of the North west, If successful it will deliver better public transport for all residents businesses throughout the Northwest, it will also boost visitor numbers in Oldham , Rochdale Ashton, Bury and the City Centre .People have been campaigning for better public transport for many years and that is what TIF will deliver. There will be more trains, trams and buses which will start earlier and finish later which means people will be able to get in and out of all the towns centres more easily. I also believe that all business will benefit from the TFI Bid , this is including a major boost to the night time economy across Greater Manchester. The investment is absolutely vital if our centres city are going to continue to grow and prosper.”

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

I'm against the congestion charge. It's insane to create a complicated expensive scheme when there are alternatives such as raising car parking charges, giving tax benefits to people who use public transport or car share.And kids shouldn't be driven to school - they should also learn to walk there or get the bus. The idea of letting parents be exempt from these short uneccessary journeys is insane!If you want to invest in buses then create council run bus companies to manage the services to provide the services we need.

Dave GNovember 7th 2008.

I too am voting NO.They are going to borrow £1.2 bn to pay back over 30yrs. OK What happens if everyone goes on public transport ,No money to pay back the loan. also there will be no room on the busses and trains for people that live near the city centre. Its alright for these people that travel on public transport now to say yes ,but remember the public transport is going to get more crowded. SO VOTE NO

polkyNovember 7th 2008.

Kevin, Please go to AGMA so that you can download and read the TiF proposal and not the propoganda document which was delivered to every household in the GM area. Cllr Striger is refering to this document and not to the whitewash you have read, so how can you compare what you know with what he and I know (I've read it too). The reason people are upset with the YES campaign is this very reason; You have read all the utopian good bits of the bid in the mail shot, but the mailshot didn't contain any of the bad bits, like what they will do if it fails or goes over budget. One thing it for sure, if the charge takes more £ to set up, then the money will be taken from elewhere in the bid... This is all about getting a congestion charge in and NOTHING to do with improving public transport (which is just the bribe).

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

Wow, Man Confidential putting the other side of the argument for once. It's a very naughty process indeed. First, we have £3m of public money backing the yes vote, hardly in keeping with a fair liberal democracy.We have the misleading implication about projects somehoe dependant on a 'yes' that will go ahead anyway. The justification of a £3bn spend by including projects that are not TIF funded at all.Forgetting to inform the electorate of the unemployment the scheme will create.Not being honest with the figures in that revenue will not reach the budgetted level and furthermore, not spelling out what this means to the council tax payer.As for which councillors support the scheme, it appears their support depends on who has their nose in ht etrough rather than how Greater Manchester benefits.

Regen08November 7th 2008.

Did she check out the improved public transport provision proposed through the £3bn of investment accessed as part of the TIF bid?

Christopher PNovember 7th 2008.

There has been an explosion in the number of pedestrian crossing in the last 3 years. Traffic calming measures have gone the same way creating bottlenecks round the city. One way streets and removal of much on street parking (on wide roads) hasn't helped. As far as I can tell there has been an active policy to congest the city centre. Why... I presume so a few people in the council can get the support for this scheme. Provide sensible traffic flow, places for pedestrians to cross, park & ride, and enforce sensible parking for pay / disabled people. Only when this is done should an expensive and probably pointless congestion charge be introduced.

Dennis/hattersleyNovember 7th 2008.

Further to above comment,theres a Russian looking KGB type person a knocking at my door,HELP

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

Mr Peel, you say "your colleagues in the no camp", you seem to think anyone who doubts the scheme is part of some organised campaign. I for one, and i suspect others are simply normal people who don't want to see their livlihood and futures go up in smoke in the name of some town clerk's ego and bank balance.You also say "All profits from the congestion charge go straight back into public transport so your comments are just ridiculous.” What you don't seem to grasp is based on current statistical data, there will be no profits, the revenue at todays prices adn today's level of vehicle usage will not pay the loan repayments. In this case, COUNCIL TAX BILLS WILL BE INCREASED TO PAY FOR THIS SHORTFALL

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

The £3m spent on advertising the proposals by GM Future Transport (part of GMPTE) has nothing to do with the Yes campaign. And I went to some of the roadshows and they provided ALL the information - including full details of the charge. It was certainly not a propaganda exercise. The no nuts with their shark prancing around waving a no to toll tax banner is propaganda.

scoteeeNovember 7th 2008.

get a bus!

scoteeeNovember 7th 2008.

NO Document?, Vote NO!

BillyNovember 7th 2008.

We have been backed into a corner, money for transport infastructure should already be in place.The public ( or at least some of it ) shoud not have to pay for it by way of congestion charge.BUT - the fact is that this is the postion we find ourselves in.I have no doubt that in future years we will have more and more cities charging congestion so I think we should grab the opportunity and take the funding.So it's a yes from me - even though my arm is twisted up my back !

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

To Simon T and anyone else I am not the the owner of Ithaca, I take my name from a character in my favorite film. The term Dole-scum was an attempt at being humourous if you are familiar with the League of Gentlemen. That said, the sentiment is still there, we should be creating great things for those who work hard, not for those who just take.

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

Billy ....you are right, this is a bribe but you say take the funding? I ask what funding, the funding pays for back office, jobs for the boys etc. The amount of the grant on offer will not pay for one bus, tram, train or additional piece of road, it's all ear-marked for red-tape. Be Clear, the cost of the 'improvemnts' amount to roughly the amount of the HUGE crippling loan. A loan that cannot be repaid given the statistics, a loan that will have to be paid for through the council tax bills....lools lke a 'no' then

Secret SquirrelNovember 7th 2008.

If the trains were not so ridiculously expensive I would use them! I pay £12 return for a terrible service. I am pretty sure that once they have the congestion charge and us even more by the short and curlies the trains and buses will be more expensive and we will have to like it or lump it! They can do what they like.Why not improve the buses, trains and trams and let people decide? Or would that be giving people their own choice? And why all these pictures of people who look like they dont even look like they should be allowed out unaccompanied with the strap line 'sounds fair to me'

Alan JonesNovember 7th 2008.

Alan, I agree. Let's be positive with this. And I also think in times of heightened unemployment John, despite losing it at the end, with his comment here has a point, the construction jobs will as with the jobs about to go into Mediacity be very welcome.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

If they had ALL the documentation on gmfuture web site then there would be a lot less unhappy people around... As it stands, the only documentation on there is what they want you to see in the hope that you won't ask any questions about financing or what constitutes 80%, etc.

Fed up of being fleecedNovember 7th 2008.

If its about green issues why are HGV's going to be exempt? Some of these wagons run an astonishing 8 mile to the gallon.The HGV's currently cut through Manchester to get from Rochdale to the M56 rather than go round the ring road.To get them onside the TIF mob have gave them exemptions. The school run cars will also be exempt, another example of the most meaningless and most polluting short car trips. This shows how desperate they are to avoid objections and this only shows that there is something to hide, and a lot of filthy profit to gain. Lets vote NO to this scam and get the public involved in a real plan. A government run service, with no profit milked off to share holders. 24hr Monitored secure park and ride. Clean, cheap, safe and reliable public transport. This will be the only way to create real jobs and rather than fritter 1.2 billion on a camera system to tax people, spend the whole lot on real improvements that encourage people to use the system.

Ali McGowanNovember 7th 2008.

I am voting 'No' at the referendum. The whole package is a complete farce. London gets billions without batting an eyelid yet their congestion charge area is just a tiny % of the total area of London. Our 2 zones are gigantic in comparison. There are also too many unanswered questions and for now I think 'Yes' is a very dangerous vote indeed. Good luck to those who vote 'Yes' because I don't think you'll get it. I side here with Trafford Council and Mr Stringer who are in the 'No' camp. To quote a very famouse lady: 'No, no, no'...

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

Kevin Peel, So what about the £3m spent on bus ads, TIF roadshow etc.In a liberal democracy, voting should not have to be swayed by £3m of propaganda. It makes the vote to be more like nazi Germany of Zimbabwe than a free liberal democracy. It stinks.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

More of taxpayers money being wasted! Who will stop this madness? I am not allowed to vote despite travelling into the city each day and working for the LA

SuzanneNovember 7th 2008.

Oh god Graham, you are boring me now. Is there anything you are for? Your not the leader of the Council anymore get over it! And lets face it any political leader in the city not in favor of £3b investment in public transport doesn't deserve to be.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

The TIB is a very good thing we need it to happen!!!! VOTE YES!!!

jmcNovember 7th 2008.

you might be right but then again there may be more people on the dole cos they never manage to get to work on time. "the bus didn't turn up" will only work so many times

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Kevin. HOW will 9 out of 10 people not pay?? No one has been able to substantiate these claims. The only verified, independant states show approx 33% of people will pay. Are you saying that 90% of people already use public transport? In my own business, 18 out of the 25 employees will have to pay.

Joe StalinNovember 7th 2008.

Why don't we cap councillors and senior management pay throughout all the boroughs to £30,000. Then 'Borrow' the money out of their final salary pension pot? That way they are putting their money where their mouths are. If it works they get their fat salaries back, a performance related bonus and back on a final salary pension, if it fails then they don't. Lets see how many of them would risk that.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

I'd like to know how Graham Stringer proposes to improve public transport.As for the car users affected by the congestion charge - if you can afford to run a car into Manchester every day (fuel and parking - and sit in it while the rest of us choke in your fumes) then you can afford to use public transport. So get on the bus, tram or train, take a paper or have a snooze and stop moaning.

bobNovember 7th 2008.

So, if the congestion charge does come in, thatthen the council are then responsible for congestion and if it doesn ease and your late for work, are they to blame, can we sue them? wouldnt that be a nice thought.

scoteeeNovember 7th 2008.

That's great news...Editorial.Incidently Kevin you are well versed in the YES Campaign.What meaasures are to be put in to place for the improvement of the transport in and out of Manchester whilst the works go ahead should the Yes voters win ?

scoteeeNovember 7th 2008.

vote for congestion not fireworks!!!!!!

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

The TIB is a very good thing we need it to happen!!!! VOTE YES!!!

jmcNovember 7th 2008.

kevin peel. the metrolink line your keen to get will be built anyway without the charge.also the route in question will not be much fun to use as it goes through alot of roads similar to the salford line. the great thing about the manchester to altrincham line is that its quick and you can avoid traffic. these new half assed routes for metrolink do not beat the traffic you may as well get the bus and save yourself abit of cash. salford metrolink sucks donkey d*ck

Milo WhizzbangNovember 7th 2008.

what are the proposals for Councillors and any exemption of the charges.I heard about the car park proposal on the radio the other week so perhaps they are telling blatant lies and rabble rousing?

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

It's a question of cost benefits ultimately. Is it worth having a few more buses, a bit extra in the back pocket for Leese and Bernstein and one extra tram line by creating huge unemployment and a huge liability on the council tax payer?It's a No from me.

regular tram userNovember 7th 2008.

Kevin Peel... it seems to me with you arrogance and the lies you have been spinning you probably work for GMPTE or a company like stagecoach who are sitting pretty waiting for the TIF cash to come flooding in and soak it all up. Why should public money pay for the infrastructure while private companies profit? Stagecoach and others should get there hands in there pockets! I very much agree with the comment above. If you really want to do this then sell the airport put your money where your mouth is! If the improvements will make such a difference then surely it’s worth it? Don’t make the roads for the rich! The truth is that if you take away the motorway (M60) from your traffic calculations the amount of cars on the roads has actually been going down. That’s a truth they don’t tell you.

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

Kevin Peel said.. 'can you believe those selfish idiots wanted us to vote no?!'....I'm afraid the selfish ones will vote yes. You should be aware that there is no Metrolink for Stockport in hte TIf document. In Fact all but one of the Metrolink routes you list are not dependant on the TIF bid i.e. they are to go ahead and are not funded through this £1.5bn grant and £1,200,000,000 6% loan at all. Within the bid itself, £1,800,000,000 is allotted to parts of the project that will not add one train, bus or tram to the network. Don't be a fool, read ALL the facts before making conclusions that will destroy jobs and livelihoods of people. DON'T BE SELFISH, vote NO!

Olive the ClippieNovember 7th 2008.

"I better get my uniform out. I do hope my travel sickness has gone"

Time for changeNovember 7th 2008.

The arguments for and against get so complicated and seem so at odds with each other that I think you just have sway one way or the other. I'm voting yes, I think the arguments for improvement in the bid document stack up very well.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

There's non of the financial info that has been refered to, nor the proof of the £bn of investment that we will lose if we don't go for it, or how the calculations have been calculated, or how the costs will be recovered if the charging doesn't raise enough, or what the ACTUAL cost is likely to be (£5 at "2007 prices" is useless) - are we talking £7? £9? £11? Its all spin.

LindyNovember 7th 2008.

As an employee of a local bus company I can tell you that all the new buses will be sitting outside the depots risking vandalism and theft because the bus companies will not be funded to either expand their vehicle space, nor give drivers better pay and conditions in order to halt the staff shortages (currently running at 20 per cent person hours and that is with some people weekly working an extra week's worth of overtime). Also there is no money for conductors or other additional bus staff to stem poor passenger behaviour which is a key cause of driver shortages.

JohnNovember 7th 2008.

Excellent article Mr. Stringer. I still can't believe that anyone in their right mind could possibly think that the way to improve public transport is to hand a huge some of money to the same ba****ds that have been pissing on the travelling public for years, it's almost as nieve as believing that public money doled out to bankers will be used to help businesses and individuals rather than big dinners and lap dancers for bankers.

SheikYerBoutiNovember 7th 2008.

I am totally opposed to the workers, sorry I mean congestion, tax as there is absolutely no call for it! I work just outside the city centre and live in the burbs and it takes me no more than half an hour each way and more often than not I don't hit any traffic! But, for some reason the proposal is to include the outer ring road (obviously the inner one wouldnt have generated enough money) so I have to pay a congestion charge when I don't sit in any congestion. It would take me an extra hour and a half to get work using public transport so I for one could not leave my car at home. Ludicrous.As far as I can see it, as a road user I will be being taxed once again just so those who already get the bus can have a cleaner one and those who don't work can get to the Trafford Centre a bit quicker to do some shopping whilst its quiet during the day.

Stand Up And Vote NoNovember 7th 2008.

I have never been so annoyed about a local issue than this one. Why should such an ill thought out scheme which will damage business and employment in Manchester be given the time of day. No funds have been made available to defend the people of Manchester whilst millions have been spent on the "yes" campaigne. It is clear that the minimal improvement programme that has been proposed will not create a viable transport alternative for the vast bulk of Greater Manchester workers. It will just be a case of an additional unavoidable tax burden for its businesses and people.Dont let these face bureaucrats get away it!

Bob LomasNovember 7th 2008.

Richard Leese is as economical with the truth as when he was first elected as a councillor for Crumpsall Ward, and he has stood by his lack of principles ever since.But he has got the nice fat salary, vast expenses and a knighthood so it just goes to show what obsequiesness can achieve.No doubt he will get his way with the referendum on the Congestion Charge.Who is counting the votes, have the election officials been imported from Zimbabwe?

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

Hard as it might be to believe, I'm just a local resident who believes passionately that we need to do something urgently about the crisis on our roads and our public transport system. I do not work for GMPTE, any local authority or any organisation that is benefitting in any way from this.My interest is in cleaning our air and improving buses, trains and trams - the new tram line out to Ashton will make it easier and more comfortable for me to get to work every day and means I won't have to hang around for hours waiting for a train that never arrives or get stuck for 50 minutes each day (and each way) on a bus because of the ridiculous amount of car traffic heading in the OTHER direction.Finally, David your comment, as with those of many of your fanatical no supporting friends, is completely false. NO public money has been spent on the Greater Manchester Yes Campaign, it is paid for by donations from the countless number of businesses who realise that the economic benefits of £3bn of investment compared to the billions we'll lose if we vote no are too important to lose.

simple...November 7th 2008.

Not only will the council not get my C charge vote, they now wont be getting my election vote...

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Louise - the leaked memo from the council showed that these 'water works' were due for February next year, but have been brought forward as it would give a 'truer' reflection of potential congestion in the run up to the referendum.

harry eartheyNovember 7th 2008.

After decades of lack of money all the schemes for the expansion of the tram system have been stopped, although houses have been knocked down and routes cleared for the extensions over the years, now they say that you can have the money if you pay a congestion charge, when we look at how much money has been spent on London's transport systems,. during this time. if gives the impression of being a glorios con trick. We should get the money to improve our transport systems without having to pay for it oueselves.

polkyNovember 7th 2008.

The tif document is here http://www.gmpta.gov.uk/publications.asp

scoteeeNovember 7th 2008.

secret squirrell have you seen it out there tonight i wouldnt bloody cycle for all the tea in China!I want to get to work how I want to get to work, and I dont want to pay the council another fee, thats what my rediculously high council taxes are for!

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

Anonymouse you can find the proposals and all documentation available to download on http://www.gmfuturetransport.co.uk.

DaveNovember 7th 2008.

We live in Salford. My wife works for company that used to be located inthe city centre and she traveled ob public t/port. The company moved to Reddish so she checked public t/port .It would take to long traveling plus a long walk in all weathers so she got herself a car. So with the con charge she will have to pay out each day which will make a big hole in her pay.She as to travel in the times to pay.She could stop at home and let the state keep her .Where is the justice in that

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

Alan Jones, you do have a point on unemployment but the actual construction of aditional facilities within TIF is not that great, most of the Metrolink / new bus stops stuff will go ahead without TIF.The lost jobs as business migrates from Manchester will far out-weigh the few jobs that are created.Most of the jobs created within tif are back-office non-productive jobs which are really typical public sector non - jobs which only exist to support the congestion charging. I'm sure there are two very highly paid jobs going within TIF but I suspect we know who are getting these cushy numbers!!IT has to be a 'No'

Planning DeptNovember 7th 2008.

Kevin. Your ignorance knows no bounds. There IS a car park being planning, essentially underneath the current library. Parking for c300 councillors and council employee “so they don’t have to walk too far.”

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

They're trying the same trick in Leeds now.. They've had the offer for cash to provide their tram system withdrawn and have been told to look at road pricing if they ever want it back. VOTE LABOUR OUT. BNP is better than this lot, and that's saying something.

REDBULLNovember 7th 2008.

whats the long term plan. once the three billions spent how are these new systems going to be maintained.from the looks of this map the congestion charge wont make any money cos no one intends to pay.check it out. its done by manchester uni.www.maptube.org/map.aspx…

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

No such car park is being built lets get back to the real issues Milo and stop with the blatant lies and rabble rousing.

Big Banker says...November 7th 2008.

Hey John, we've cut down on the lapdancing..it's no more VIP hand shandies for us I'm afraid, just straight £20 kit off from now on..;-( Meals are now paltry one or two star Michelin restaurants only...needs must.

a manchester galNovember 7th 2008.

I know where i can vote yes, but where can I vote no???

SimonNovember 7th 2008.

Brian I'd say you were an idiot but that might be considered 'excessively rude' so what I'll say instead is that your scaremongering rant has no basis in fact is wildly inaccurate and you should put your tin foil hat back on before the aliens get into your brain

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

It has to be a NO vote. I live outside the ring and if I used public transport to the city centre my journey time would increase by a staggering hour and a half. If the charge is introduced, I would need to find work elsewhere (probably the company would relocate as most of our employees would be affected). I would not visit Manchester for shopping as it would curtail the day trying to avoid the charge. In terms of actual congestion today, it is quite obvious to me as a long-time worker in the City that the peak time traffic is well down on 5 years ago. Also, if the charge is introduced, the congestion and parking just "outside" the ring will be horrific as it is in London. I doubt the so-called financial benefits will have any long-term benefit over the plans for improvement which will happen anyway. We are being held to ransom over OUR funds. Release the financial information I dare you - it is absurb that this is being withheld. How can people make a balanced decision without this?

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Kevin - thats the problem, all the facts are NOT on the website. PS - good luck with the 'YES' event you are running.

Dick LeeseNovember 7th 2008.

"Shut up and type......your not paid to think"

James GarnettNovember 7th 2008.

Stringer may well be right. There might indeed be nothing of substance to the TIF proposals. But I disagree look at the substance of the bid and you will lots and lots good stuff that will benefit the Greater Manchester region, whether that be in the form of new kit buses, trains and so forth, or new arrangements, plans to network services across the area with planning. I'm voting yes.

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

"Oldham and Ashton would benefit from bike lanes and more regular trains as well as better bus routes between the two towns." - yes they would Kathy, that's why you should be voting YES and not supporting the moronic Graham Stringer in his neverending quest for media attention the only way he knows how to get it - by shooting his mouth off ceaselessly to oppose everything anyone does anywhere ever. I can't wait for him to be deselected / voted out. I'm a Labour supporter but he is not a Labour MP.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Can someone add a link to the actual proposal document, please?

Simon TNovember 7th 2008.

The owner of Ithaca feels able to describe some of his fellow citizens as "dole-scum". Arnie, I'd much rather be in a dole queue than your pretentious, wannabe, badly-designed, horrifically over-priced venue any day of the week.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

As a "lay person" who isn't hot on politics and only knows what she has read on here and in the MEN (plus the leaflets that have come through my door) I cant see the benefit the congestion charge will have for North Manchester. Theoretically it wont cost me extra to get to work as i work outside of manchester but i havent read any guarentees that the pricing policy wont change, nor have i read any information that states it wont change my council tax or effect my house price. Plus i imagine it may have an effect on local business which in turn may effect the cost of goods and the range of service i have around me because of the charge. There are a lot of questions unanswered and the "yes" campaign adverts regarding "well it wont effect me" are selfish, annoying and have promoted me to want to vote no more than anything.

wendyNovember 7th 2008.

At least James garnett has the chance to vote - what about those of us that live just outside the voting area but depend on Manchester for entertainment, shopping etc - we have no say in the matter.

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

As I am sure you are aware you can see all of the facts and figures in the TIF proposals on http://www.gmfuturetransport.co.uk. Even if I was completely wrong and you are completely right, that still leaves a whopping 70% of the population who will pay jack sh*t. Still sounds good to me.

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

redbull I won't even comment on your preposterous claim and to answer the unnamed guy / gal - The 9 out of 10 people who won't pay are made up of the 30% of the population who don't have cars, the existing public transport users, the people who don't drive at the peak times in the correct direction, the people who drive around the rings instead of through them...

BarneyBearNovember 7th 2008.

Definitely voting No to the TIF and another stealth tax!

LucasNovember 7th 2008.

Who are the biggest proponents for the Congestion Charge? - Sir Richard Leese and Sir Howard Bernstein of Manchester City Council.Who is going to get the biggest benefit out of the £3bn? - Manchester City Council. Look where the biggest chunk of funding is going for the Metro Link - its nearly all for Manchester except for the Trafford Centre link, a modest extension towards Ashton, a modest link to Oldham Centre and a modest link to Rochdale Centre. No wonder Manchester Politicians want it.Who is going to make the biggest contribution to the Congestion Charge? Those living outside the M60 ring, who don't contribute to Manchester City Centre's Congestion but who will pay £2 or £3 a day just to cross over the M60.Its a joke to suggest these proposals are equitable - its robbing the motorist "rich" to pay for the public transport "poor".The answer is to VOTE NO, and then have a proper debate thereafter - no point trying to have a debate now, the Yes Lobby just want to steamroller everything through!

really??November 7th 2008.

Ithaca will be gone, as with Arnie's last venture. Spend lots, promise lots, go bust

mohammed khanNovember 7th 2008.

we shouldent have to pay to drive on roads,yet we pay road tax,but to determine the times and areas is obscene, maybe if we put microchips under our forearms then tracking us would be easier.If we do have to pay then get rid off the traffic wardens as they are an inconveinance and unfair on all tax payers not to mention inconsisent and incompasionate

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

It is about time for people to start waking up. £3bn. Are we building a new city?????? What is the reason for a congestion charge? Obviously the congestion? Is there an actual traffic congestion in this city? Well, NO! Just imagine the roads with no "necessary" roadworks that start all of a sudden on the busiest and most used routes of the city. Add to traffic lights that are cleverly calculated to switch between them in a way that always the front are red and the back are green (and only on peak time...) and then make up your mind if there is any "congestion" in Manchester. Just think...

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Adrien - you obviously haven't seen the leaked memo/email from the council bringing forward the water works from February to now so as to ‘show a better indication of the potential for congestion’ before the Referendum takes place.

secret squirrelNovember 7th 2008.

Will the head of MCC pay the congestion charge? Or will he arrive in an exempt car with a driver? Also there is big consideration to be given once again to peoples freedom of choice - more people would cycle if it was safer! As someone commented to me he would rather take his life in his hands on the road than cycle through bandit country on his bike!

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Why are people banging on about £3bn of investment when it isn't so cut and dry.Almost £1bn will be used to manage and create the congestion zones - so that is going to improve public transport how?

LinziNovember 7th 2008.

Graham Stringer is merely emphasising how desperate the 'No' camp is getting. As has been stated by some of the posters here, what EXACTLY are the alternatives being outlined to improve public transport other than the TIF bid?The buses are being re-regulated as Graham well knows. This will enable local authorities to decide where they want new routes and lead to more 'joined up' thinking in public transport. 9 out of 10 people benefit from these proposals- rarely in politics can you state such a fact. And it is the least well off who benefit from these plans. At the end of the day those who want the luxery of driving should pay the limited charge. I actually live over a mile from my nearest bus stop so I walk there. I could drive but choose not to. If others choose to drive then they should pay. Its pretty simple really. The truth remains that, if the 'No' campaign succeeds, the Greater Manchester economy will suffer due to congested roads and we will have missed the opportunity to vastly improve public transport for at least a generation.Its YES all the way for me!

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

I made one point, Kev, but not the other... You getting paranoid?

Peter RobertsNovember 7th 2008.

In response to James Garnett who thinks there are new buses, trains and "so forth" in the TIF funding.Sorry, but you are wrong on all counts.The only new buses are 120 yellow school buses.The trains are already funded and the TIF bid does nothing for heavy rail.The changes to the bus network can happen without TIF. The buses are privately owned so changes can be made anyway - given the will.This TIF bid is a mess and a big mistake. Graham Stringer has researched this and came to the same conclusion as most who actualy make the effort to see what is on offer and at what price.Anyone voting really needs to ignore the YES and NO campaigns and read the information about the bid themselves first.Ask questions about how much the congestion charge will bring in. Ask how much it will cost to run and research all other similar schemes worldwide.Ask what the actual benifits to public transport are and at what cost.99% of people who make the effort to do this will come to the same conclusion and vote a big NO.

scoteeeNovember 7th 2008.

redbull your right,the local authorities have no idea how to negotiate a deal.I could have hand built and personally delivered gold plated bench for less than half of that.the costs are either stupid or corruption needs to be investigated...yes thats it we should spend 200k investigated how we can save 100 million ...bloody idiots...3 billion? thats half the cost of the london olympic games??? and all we get is a 15% rise in busses and a few tram stops!!! what a joke

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

I work in Manchester and employ 14 people here.... I love in Wilsmlow were over 50% of workers travel into Manchester. Where is our ability to vote??

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

Paul this is about £3bn of public transport investment - OF COURSE the people who are using public transport are going to be affected. What a proposterous notion to say otherwise! FOR THE 9 OUT OF 10 OF YOU WHO WON'T PAY *ANYTHING* - VOTE YES!

EditorialNovember 7th 2008.

Some wrong comments here fell into the 'excessively rude' category contained in the rules and regs written under this comment box. We've taken the worst off. They weren't even funny either.

scoteeeNovember 7th 2008.

fighty fighty fight !!!

seabeeNovember 7th 2008.

Relax the SEABEE back in the hive.you cant go killing guys just because say thing you dont like! whatever to the art.

BenNovember 7th 2008.

1) Why are we being literally held to ransome by our own government for £2bn of OUR money?2) Oldham does not need a tram. We have 2 train lines and an effective bus service that run regularly and reasonable reliably. Spend more on the existing train services, sure, but don't rip up the roads to install a service we don't need."Monorail" anybody?

DavidNovember 7th 2008.

We should all be concerned because it appears that they don't want to show the financial information because they are spending PUBLIC MONEY on the yes campaign......... I think a freedom of infomation request should go in after this vote has finished.....

LauraNovember 7th 2008.

I wonder how much of the funding is going to United Utilities for them to have brought forward their works from February to November? That nicely-timed little ploy has backfired as far as I'm concerned...after sitting on a bus outside the Bridgewater Hall for 25 minutes and only moving 10 yards last week, when I know that my bus journey normally only takes 35 minutes in total has just made me even more determined to vote "no". I know when I'm being conned.

taxNovember 7th 2008.

Blimey. Me ranting is almost incoherent. Apologies.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Metrolink don't even HAVE a time table.

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

EVERY business in the Yes camp has a vested interest in ensuring the economic competitiveness of Greater Manchester is maintained and built upon, as should every business in the region. Why the businesses in the no camp seem opposed to creating 10,000 jobs, increasing competitiveness and boosting the economy by several billion pounds I really couldn't say.

polkyNovember 7th 2008.

In all these rants, no one has pointed out the FAC that there is actually less traffic on the roads than there was in 2000 and it's still decreasing. There is no congestion in Manchester and, as the traffic levels are dropping, it doesn't look likely that there ever will be whather there's a charge or not. I'll be voting NO because I believe that 1, £2.75bn isn't enough to scratch the surface. 2, Congestion charging will significantly affect he local economy. 3, I don't trust the people behind the scheme as they are proven liars. and 4, most of the lies in the TiF propoganda will happen anyway as they're already paid for (Met to Denton, Rochdale and Oldham along with 42 new trams).

brianNovember 7th 2008.

If you think there will be more buses, you're sadly mistaken. All this bid will do is replace some old buses with newer ones because, as bus companies are privatly owned, they WILL replace or add to their fleets as the demand requires. Don't delude yourself... two years after the charge comes in, when 100% are paying, the caps on fares have gone, the consessions have been removed for taxis, disabled, etc and the scheme is being expanded to encompass the satelite towns, you can pat yourselves on the back and say "We voted for that". Turkeys voting for christmas.

NevNovember 7th 2008.

We can whinge all we like but I have been told by someone within planning that the cameras are already in place. This money making scheme is going ahead whether we like it or not.More trains at peak times - where will they go, piccadilys platforms are already stretched to capacity at peak times and the same gos for buses, have people seen how busy the station in the gardens is!The point of this congestion charge is to rake in money, plain and simple. If it wasnt it would be only the city centre. However, its everything inside the ringroad.I dont actually drive. I get public transport, but even I see this a ridiculous money building excercise.

Anthony McCaulNovember 7th 2008.

Graham - £3 billion investment in new trains, trams and buses will radically alter the transport experience of Greater Manchester people including many in your constituency. How can a Labour politician be against a cap on bus fares for all, a 20% discount for the lowest paid workers to use public transport and a package which will help lift up and connect the 30% of people in Greater Manchester who dont have a car and rely on poor public transport. You're patently wrong on this one - the package is a once in a generation chance to improve our transport system for the better while investing in our area and creating thousands of jobs during the economic downturn. Think again and stop this ill thought out and frankly cranky opposition!

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

Kevin Peel, you say nine out of ten will not pay. The Official Tif document says the amount paying will be 100% more, I think you need to get youfacts straight.Furthermore, even with 20% paying, the revenue created will not cover the loan repayments on a £1,200,000,000 loan over 30 years. To manage the loan repayments (not even the £174m profit that is being budgetted) traffic levels will need to rise around 25%. Baring in mind, the project is likely to create unemployment and that Manchester has seen a reduction in traffic levels of some 7%, it looks like council tax level s will be on the rise.IF you are in a safe public sector non-job, vote yes, if ou have to work hard in hte real world, VOTE NO

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Sam Skittle is right; the transportation system within Greater Manchester is in disarray. Surely it is more worthwhile sorting the timings on traffic lights with traffic management system (cameras and a control room) removing bus lanes where they are neither use nor ornament. Controlling the number of Lorries flooding the roads between 8 – 10 & 4 – 6. Or failing on implementing any of these create an underground system with the whole of greater Manchester, they’ve already done most of the planning (just apply the routes they intend to an underground system) imagine a train every couple of minutes rather than the tram every 15 minutes and more importantly no delay with traffic. Isn’t it time Greater Manchester started acting like a large city rather large town.

2dogsonboatNovember 7th 2008.

can you believe anything these days when it comes to hidden taxation please all mancs vote a big mancky "NO"

SimonNovember 7th 2008.

That is why there will be MASSIVE INVESTMENT in public transport to boost capacity... jeez, what is it with you people?!

EditorialNovember 7th 2008.

Folks, we've got an official response to Graham's article going out this afternoon. We think you'll find it very interesting.

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

Wayne Tylderley, I suspect The likes of Leese and Bernstein will be looking at some nicely paid appointments on the back of TIF. It will also be interesting to see where those contracts go should this thing go ahead.

seabeeNovember 7th 2008.

Yo dave.I used tol ive in Failsworth but use to work down Salford quauys. AndTHE BEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD ARE SALFORD

brianNovember 7th 2008.

Kev, For the final time, it's £2.75bn and £1.2bn of that WILL NOT BE SPENT ON PT. So you are voting for £1.5bn in "transport improvments", the majority of which will be an iron road from Denton to Ashton. IF the private bus companies needed new buses, they would buy them themselves... Forcing them to run empty buses (which is basically what TiF will do) isn't very green is it..?

Taxin' JohnNovember 7th 2008.

Simon Yes, if you go around blithely believing and repeating the Yes mantra, then you'll obviously speak like you have done. But the facts are that all transport is run-for-profit by for-profit companis when in fact they should be run as a service by government, local or national. We've aready paid for the infrastructure hu' taxing and now they want more. The surplus money will go to shareholders and the evr-so-brave, risk-taking directors of bus and train companies. Aside fom that, when has anyhing benn promised and delivered by a government which has since lived up to expectations, come within budget AND not required further subsidy, i.e. yours and my cash.

The Knowledge.November 7th 2008.

Kevin - there IS another way. Sell the Airport. You will get more than enough to introduce all the changes you want. The Airport is a drain on public resources as whilst it does contribute a VERY small dividend, the investment that goes out of the region FROM our region is far greater.

jmcNovember 7th 2008.


AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Thats an unusually bright and constructive response from a 'yes' proponent. If I lived less than a mile from a bus stop, it might be an option. However, aside from the fact that I need my car for business, I would need to walk 5 miles per day and get an unreliable rail service (and take over 4 times longer than I currently commute) in order to get to and from work. Any more sensible options?

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Kev, Sorry to burst your bubble, but some of the companies that have bee funding the Yes campaign are financed by the government, which is money launderin, I think. Modus for one have contributed a substantial amount to your cause and are an entirely government funded organisation. The tram to Oldham, Rochdale and Denton is already paid for as are 42 new trams.. Tif will pay for an extension to Ashton and to Rochdale and Oldham town centres only.

Dominic of EcclesNovember 7th 2008.

I would like you to show me where that guarantee is! there is no 30 year guarantee. I have spoken to some of the people behind this farse and have been told that there none! the price can go up the times can change and the tif proposal even alows for further expansion to outlying towns like bolton! check your facts mate.

LouiseNovember 7th 2008.

We already pay a raft of taxes that are supposed to cover the costs of infrastructure improvements and maintenance. Many of these taxes go up and up, year on year, yet we appear to get ever diminishing services in return. Who can remember proper NHS supported dental treatment, clean hospitals cleaned by state employees, Student Grants instead of loans, public sector housing supply more in tune with demand (something like a third of the UK stock has been sold off and very few new houses, except those that have replaced older stock have been built since the seventies!), schools and hospitals properly equipped not having to beg for money for vital books and machines, refuse taken on a weekly basis (still is in most areas, but not if they have their way), public toilets on most high streets and shopping areas (the majority have been demolished or sold off), bins in public places (again many have been removed to save on the expense of emptying them), reasonable inner city parking arrangements and charges, some (nearly all in my experience) of the rises in charges are a national disgrace and have been abused to exorbitant levels by both public and private administrators. Are these people in power taking the mick, they have scrimped on improvement and maintenance for decades and have been flogging to death a transport system, which in some cases was envisaged 100 years ago and has seen little improvement since, yet they seem surprised that the many crisis's have occurred (Hatfield etc.) In the past Governments have sanctioned and funded motorway building schemes, large scale council housing developments, which have been undertaken in more economically adverse conditions than at present. Public sector housing and the transport network has been allowed to reach crisis point, through many years of under investment and to add further insult to injury we are told there's no money for these vital projects, what have they been wasting our money on all this time? could it be the millions wasted in government media advertising campaigns, think tanks, corporate branding of councils, ill conceived public sculptures and buildings (B of the bang, Millennium Dome etc.) not to mention the fact that the majority of national and local services, infrastructure management, building/maintenance projects and administration are all undertaken by private contractors, therefore tax payers effectively support the profit margins demanded by private business and their shareholders, on the basis that it saves money, but in reality more often than not, only offers authorities the opportunity to spread the cost over a longer period at a higher total cost but with fewer public sector employees on their pay roll, I know who I would rather pay!

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

"It WILL allow greater scrutiny by local authorities and bus companies won't be able to do as they damn well please anymore. "Think about that statement for a second... Scrutiny... What will happen then? A stern note? Because at the end of the day, the councils will have no more power to govern routes or bus numbers than they do already... They WILL be able to control timetables, etc. and subsidise loss maing routes, but your utopia will never be, as all of this cash will be frittered away on the explosive cost of setting up acharge that no one really wants... Ifthey said chargewith out the sweetner, would you still say yes?

Wayne TylderleyNovember 7th 2008.

That Graham Stringer doesn't like the CC does he? But can our leaders really be this fraudalent. I'd love to know what Stringer things they are getting out of it?

AdrienNovember 7th 2008.

Am I the only person who has noticed the amount of road works and street closures around the city, making even walking across the city more conjested let alone traffic. How many weeks to the vote now?

GaryNovember 7th 2008.

'paid for by self interested big business backing the smear campaign'. Kevin you are funny. The only self interested big businesses getting ionvolved are from the 'yes' camp. Can you name ONE business that forms part of the yes camp that doesn't have a vested interest? and one business from the NO camp that would measurably benefit from a NO vote?

Stan MannNovember 7th 2008.

Kevin Peel - You claim that Graham is only representing himself but he is a democratically elected MP who is well respected by the people he serves. Are you trying to imply that the people of North Manchester are not capable of voting for someone they want to stand up for them? This matter will be decided by a referendum that we all get to vote in so lets just see what the majority of people in Greater Manchester want not just the unelected people paid to spout propaganda.

real world galNovember 7th 2008.

David, i absolutely agree. if theres nothing to hide why are they witholding information. i for one would like to know which councillor it was that wasn't allowed to view the document- its all very strange. THIS IS PUBLIC MONEY WE'RE TALKING ABOUT

Artie fufkinNovember 7th 2008.

Come on Kevin, you are not that thick. If the figure is 10%, the charge will not raise enough money to pay hte interest on hte loan, nevermind the repayments.This is very important, if the scheme is financially flawed as you claim, it simply must not go ahead.You seem no to care that it's the woking professional people who ar eto pay for this. Why not just get teh dole-scum of this city to contribute instead.

Morgan TsvangiraiNovember 7th 2008.


AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Yes, kev... That's exactly my feelings. Rochdale and Oldham don't need the extensions, as they do just fine with the terminus they have now. The Ashton extension is not much to shout about either... i mean, who wants to go there?!?

Regen08November 7th 2008.

I believe that assumptions in the bid on the financing of the proposals are prudent and conservative. As to your second point, well there are different models of congestion charging already operating in different cities around the world and there is plenty of interest in Greater Manchester's innovative model - see today's MEN. At the end of the day, the scheme is about safeguarding and fostering continued economic growth. Investment in infrastructure is key to bringing about increased jobs and investment into the area. Companies will invest in areas where they have easy access to a large labour pool, where they can get their goods or services to markets more easily and where there is critical mass of business activity so as to effect innovation, exchange and transformation of knowledge... all of which the congestion charge / TIF package will greatly enhance even with the introduction of a limited charging scheme. It really is a win-win situation for Greater Manchester, putting it at considerable competitive advantage to competing cities. You and your daughter, whether charge-payers or not, would be well advised to VOTE YES for the package for improved long term and sustainable prospects for personal and collective prosperity.

Hitman4hireNovember 7th 2008.

Dear Mr Leese and Bernstein.I just want you to know that if you need me to do anymore work for you i am always here.How about start with the two wise guys above boss.

Artie FufkinNovember 7th 2008.

Finally Kevin Peel, I'd suggest you look beyond a 24 page leaflet from TIF. I took away 3 buliky reports from the TIF roeadshow, looked up the relevent publically available statistics, looked at the empirical evedence from the London scheme to conclude it's a NO. The TIF brochure is designed to mislead simple people. You my friend have been misled.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

..and, Kevin, those stats come from...?? Any survey so far has indicated that between 20 and 33% of people will pay. I can't for a second believe that only 10% of people will pay and no-one can show ANY evidence to the contrary

KathyNovember 7th 2008.

Stop insulting our MP Graham Stringer. He is representing the views of mancunions. He cares about the city and the long term economic damage that could be done with these proposed privatised transport "improvements". Oldham and Ashton would benefit from bike lanes and more regular trains as well as better bus routes between the two towns. Council tax payers will be paying for 40 years if the Yes vote wins. We have that great tradition in Manchester of Can't Pay Won't Pay.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Public transport in London went up by 15-20% the week their congestion charging came in. Bet on the same thing here!

georgieNovember 7th 2008.

less people in cars=more people walking too work/train station, riding their bikes etc....this may help ease the burden on the NHS for all the obesity and heart problems...will prob. encourage us to use local shops instead of dropping off at the supermarkets on industrial estates...might get us chatting to our neighbours again...as for robbing from the mototist rich to help the public transport poor? GOOD. Cars should be viewed as a luxury not a necessity...

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

Trafford Council and Graham Stringer, now there's an unholy alliance!Our scheme is very different from London. It aims to tackle congestion where it is at its most serious and has already been hailed by other cities as the best possible model. Indeed London's Deputy Mayor in charge of the charge down there has admitted to Manchester as a future model for London should they revisit their scheme.£3bn for new tram lines, more buses and extra trains is not a farce. Voting no and getting nothing is the farce. May the farce be with you.

Kevin PeelNovember 7th 2008.

Anonymouse why don't you include all your points in one post instead of making it look like you are several people? I love how none of you no people use your names. Assumably so that the lies and propaganda can't be traced back to you. Or more likely because you are all the same 3 people paid for by the self interested big business backing your smear campaign against progress.

Sam SkittleNovember 7th 2008.

I think Graham Stringer's comments on the proposed imposition of the 'Congestion' Tax are 101 percent right! He is especially correct in pointing out that, unlike in London, public transport in Greater Manchester was deregulated by Thatcher, and therefore remains completely uncoordinated and uncontrollable by any publicly accountable body (so much for the GMPTE!). Because of this iniquitous disparity, passengers - the so-called citizens of Greater Manchester - have no means whatsoever of influencing the provision of their public transport systems, which are supposed - in a civilised society - to serve need, not corporate profit! Why do the regions get all of London's disadvantages forced upon them, but never any of its benefits? Our public transport provision will never even approach that in the Capital, let alone ever match it, 'Congestion' Tax, or no'Congestion' Tax. And so it will always take me MORE time to travel the six miles from my home (where no tram will ever approach) to Piccadilly railway station by bus than it actually does to travel on the train from Manchester to London! And as for commuting by public transport to work (in Castlefield) - the best time I have ever achieved on the bus from my home to work was two hours, thirty-six minutes - one way! How bizarre are these two facts?! Like Gatsos (which are NOT predicated upon the lie of safety, but simply on grabbing vast amounts of easy cash from motorists) this Tax is just another way of fleecing and oppressing the citizen! Anyway, we already have a 'National Congestion Charge' in full operation. It is called the highest motoring costs by far (mostly fuelled by the highest - along with Norway - fuel prices) in the entire World! You may be quite sure that when governments resort to the sort of underhand tactics Graham Stringer alludes to, and actors are brought in to pretend to be Mancunian commuters in favour of this Tax, and traffic light systems are secretly and cynically re - programmed to actually create the illusion of congestion prior to the vote on the 'Congestion' Tax (as was the case in London) something is very wrong indeed! VOTE NO! I say, in December, and send Orwell's 'Big Brother' a clear message that his underhand scheming has been clearly seen to be what it really is by the oppressed citizens of Greater Manchester! I wonder, just how much more of this sort of thing is the public going to take?

redbullNovember 7th 2008.

kevin your so deluded. 3 billion quids gonna buy an extra bench for every bust station, not much else. I remember reading in the men a while back about the shudehill bust station and it cost like £20k for a bench. its a joke

I ObjectNovember 7th 2008.

I live in the city centre and so dont use a car.I have a 2 yr old sone whose mother drops him off after nursery to have his tea and spend the night with me 3 times a week.she then collects him in the morning using her car and returns him to Nursery.My ex lives in failsworth.Why should either of us suffer the burden of additional charges when A) i live in the centre B) she lives three miles away just outside the proposed inner ring?all three of us would suffer and any length of public transport wouldnt assist our scenario, so unless innerband dwellers are exempt I will vote no... besides we dont need the transport to improve its the people outside the city that seem to want it?? let them pay

brianNovember 7th 2008.

Simon. I'd say you were indeed the overly trusting, blind fool, but for the same reason, I won't. The plans to expand the system are public knowledge (although Sir Howard denies they ever existed). The caps and consessions are to be reviewed after two years - in Stockholm, this meant removed after two years, Manchester is based on Stockholm, what part of this makes me a scaremongerer? If First or Stagecoach need new buses for a route, they will go out and buy them, because that's how their business works... No buses, no income. The loss leading routes will still be subsidised by the tax payer while the operators of the charge suddenly realise that they haven't budgeted correctly and we'll need to increase the charge/fares/council tax and we'll have to expand.

LouiseNovember 7th 2008.

I'm sure this has nothing to do with the vote, but why does every major street seem to be closed or have road works on. Travelling in and out around Ancoats, Litty Italy, Cheetham Hill is awful at the moment. London Road being closed at weekend is causing chaos. It all seems a bit too coincidental for me and if it's anything to do with water pipes, maybe they should have planned it out better.

Head of Roads, MCCNovember 7th 2008.

We are currently involved in a major upgrade of the mains water system in Manchester. This will cause major disruption and congestion on the artery routes in and out of Manchester. We aim to cause as little disruption as possible hence we will be carrying out work on every main route in Manchester at the same time......."Wait a minute, won't that cause MORE congestion?".......

Alf GledhillNovember 7th 2008.

When is somebody going to think of a plan that saves us money,all our "politicians" can do is get more and more money out of us yet life in this country gets worse and worse.

Dennis/hattersleyNovember 7th 2008.

never trust any politician/council as they've all got hidden agendas,I Blame the parents and Thatcher,no wonder i'm cynical,but is'nt that healthy.Always ask why,thats me getting a visit now from MI5

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

Stagecoach are unable to adhere to the most basic of timetables as it is, what faith are we supposed to have that the congestion charge will make any difference?

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