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Congestion charging solved

Could the Trafford Centre be sold off to fund regional transport changes?

Published on July 4th 2007.

Congestion charging solved

The Association of Silly Suggestions (ASS) have today announced they rate Peel Holdings proposal to sell off Manchester Airport “as the best yet”.

The property giant which owns the Trafford Centre and several UK airports, is pitted against the local authorities of Greater Manchester over how the regional transport infrastructure might be improved. Peel Holdings believe that the Airport, which is owned by all ten Greater Manchester local authorities, could be sold off for £3bn and attract another £4bn in private sector investment. This could be then used to fund improvements without the need to impose a congestion charge.

A spokesperson, from ASS, which is based in Knotty Ash, Liverpool, said, “what makes the idea from Peel Holdings perfect is that there’s absolutely no chance of it ever being adopted. Manchester Airport is a cash cow for the Greater Manchester councils – last year it gave them a dividend of £25m – and they will never let it go. We’ve put this on top of our pile of crazed suggestions along with the idea that England might win the next World Cup and that the London Olympics will be delivered on budget without the need for further public money.”

Meanwhile Manchester Confidential has learned that a counter proposal is to be put forward to ask Peel Holdings to sell off the Trafford Centre. This would raise up to £10bn (and a further £7.50 when the artworks are sold off). The money could then be ploughed back into roads, rail and buses. Some key roads into regional centres might even be paved in recycled marble from the shopping centre.

Janine Vague, a spokesperson for the shadowy group behind the idea, said, “These are carefully costed proposals worked out in the pub last night on the back of beermat in about ten minutes. They bear no relation to reality and were hastily drawn up to make a point and nothing else. We really feel they have no future.”

A Peel Holdings insider denies the proposals to sell the Airport were developed in a similar manner, “No, we spent longer than ten minutes on the idea, nearly half an hour actually. We drew them up in the boardroom too, not in a pub. And then we simply forgot it wasn’t 1st April any time soon.”

Are Peel Holdings right to suggest we sell off the Airport? Or were they just trying to make a point and went too far? Have your say below.

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

KGBJuly 4th 2007.

The buses and trains are all privatised -you've got to admit it seems anomolous an airport is still owned by the council in this day and age. Even the garbage collection is privatised. Personally this plan is far preferable to the con charge, and much more likely to raise some serious money to make a real difference to public transport.

GrahamJuly 4th 2007.

Love it. keep it up. Very funny, sell the Trafford centre off - still laughing

DrawohJuly 4th 2007.

How did they get to the figure of £3bill. London City Airport was sold for 28 times earnings. £25mill x 28 = £700 mill. A price of £3bill would mean 120 times earnings. Mischief making I reckon.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2007.

Yeah very funny. Trouble is the joke's on us. The airport is owned by the Council Tax payers not Peel, so it's our money that's not being used properly. They could make £150million a year just putting the money in a building society. The £25 mill they make every year is pathetic. I say sell the lot and cut pensionners council tax to nil.

Robert Van WinkleJuly 4th 2007.

" The value is 28 x EBITDA (not dividend) Earnings before Interest, Tax,Depreciation and Amortisation And £25m return on £3b is buttons They would get £150m+ if they just put it in the building society !"...................................................................Excellent post, some people don't know their Bottom Line from their elbow!

Rob AdlardJuly 4th 2007.

Is ManCon the turning into the MEN? Has the change in tone recently been due to the appointment of the new editor? Peel are the only people able to put up any opposition to the City Council and the Labour government trying to force this through without any proper debate. Its worth showing that manchester City council is one of the richest in the country, partly due to the airport. Also helped by the massive increase in people living in the city centre who are cheap citizens for the council, and paying high bands of council tax. Setting up the congestion charge will cost a huge amount of money, and as its simply a local tax to raise money for things the government should have paid for, why not just be honest - save us the money of setting up this charge, and jsut add it to our council tax, let it be an honest tax.The open letter in the MEN refuting what Peel have been saying was from the chief donors to the Labour party and friends of the city council, This proved further that there is very little debate and democracy about this whole thing...

AnonymousJuly 4th 2007.

Genius - I think man.con should send an open letter to the MEN, Manchester City Council and Peel Holdings suggesting that the Trafford Centre is sold off. Surely, if we get enough support from the public and Manchester CC, they can use Compulsory Purchase Powers to force Peel to sell.

DavidJuly 4th 2007.

Yeah the article in the MEN quoted the guy from Peel as saying their suggestion had "nothing to do" with Peel's interests in airports! Haha I almost fell off my (slightly crusty) tram seat! Bring it on I say :D

AnonymousJuly 4th 2007.

peel holdings are complaining as the trafford ctr is just inside the proposed conjestion charging zone of the M60 ring road and would/could potentially put people off visiting along with there other proposals i.e Salford Reds Stadium, Eqestrian Ctr at Worsley etc etc

AnonymousJuly 4th 2007.

good work man con. peel holdings came across like a deranged bond villain when they hatched their fiendish plan in the papers yesterday. oddly however your story still seems slightly more plausible than theirs.what next... peel holdings' crack team of winged monkeys asset strip dunstable?

Robert Van WinkleJuly 4th 2007.

When you look into exactly what this proposed £3bn investment entails, you see that Peel Holdings are talking serious sense.Manchester will become forever endebted for this, as the C Charge will cost a fortune to implement and run. If my sources are to be believed, interest payments on the loan part of the 3bn, which is actually 2bn of it (it's not just a freebie handout you know!) will cripple the city. This will have to be paid back to the government over a long period, along with any profit from the scheme!Everybody should back Peel holdings on this and get the council to sell sell sell the airport!Also we should come up with pro-environment options (which the C Charge is NOT!), such as cheaper parking for cars 1l and under, car sharing initiatives etc. Why should somebody with 4 people in a toyota Yaris be charged £5 a day for driving to work, when the suburban yummy mummys drop the kids off in the 'Range'?

mark hJuly 4th 2007.

The thing is abt the airport group that alright historically the councils may have owned manchester airport but hold on they own east mids, humberside & bournemouth!!! shouldn't at least these be sold off? Councils shouldnt be involved in commerical ventures such as this. Imagine if the group went bust (unlikely i know) who would pay? council tax payers! And to be honest, the amt recvd as a dividend is probably countered by a lower central grant from the government as the council tax bills inMcr are some the highest in the land!!!

AnonymousJuly 4th 2007.

£25m pa doesn't seem much. Maybe they should sell it off. Then again once you sell it off you can't sell it off again can you, so that might be short-sighted? Problem is this whole thing is getting so complicated I have no idea which side to believe.

Jonathan SchofieldJuly 4th 2007.

Dear Mr Adlard. We've not changed we're doing what we often try to do, as we did with the death of Bernard Manning: offer an alternate view. The Peel Holdings and Airport story was first put up by the MEN and then the reply came the following day - so Peel made the bigger splash. At Manchester Confidential we're not following any party line, but the Peel proposal was worthy of satire because it would never ever be adopted. I admire it as a tactic to make people think though.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2007.

The value is 28 x EBITDA (not dividend)Earnings before Interest, Tax,Depreciation and AmortisationAnd £25m return on £3b is buttonsThey would get £150m+ if they just put it in the building society !

AnonymousJuly 4th 2007.

Peel would be the first to bid if the airport was put up for sale I reckon. It's a clever way of buying up the North west. ambitious compnaies are great but some people take things too far.

chorlton chrisJuly 4th 2007.

The congestion charge isn't just about raising income, it's about changing behaviour. We need to get people away from cars and onto public transport, and where possible changing the times of car trips. That is done by charging at certain times. A one-off injection of money won't do any of that. And personally I like to know profits from the airport stays in the region, instead of going to fat-cat private equity owners in USA, Germany or Australia. That'd be a REAL boost to the region's economy...

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