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Exclusive: Three leaders speak on Congestion Charging

Stringer, Leese and Bernstein all talk on Manchester Confidential

Published on July 11th 2008.


Exclusive: Three leaders speak on Congestion Charging

Stringer, Leese and Bernstein - who are they? The best attacking trio Oldham Athletic ever had?

No, of course not. Graham Stringer is the MP for Blackley and the former City Council Leader. Sir Richard Leese is the current City Council Leader and Sir Howard Bernstein is the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council.

Two are elected, one is a civil servant. Two are pro the Transport Innovation Fund and one is against. Over the last ten days we’ve had all three of these key regional figures writing on Manchester Confidential. What they say is important if you want to understand the way the debate is going – as are the comments from our brainy readers underneath the main articles.

The articles offer an insight into the main arguments for and against Congestion Charging. They are very different pieces too. And they are unique to Confidential.

Graham Stringer’s was the first and he’s against the charge: 'The congestion charge is a misnomer. It is a tax that is unrelated to congestion, pollution or in any simple way, the ability to pay. '

Sir Howard Bernstein, pro-the congestion charge, was next up answering readers questions: 'Congestion is an issue in Greater Manchester with average traffic speed during the morning peak falling by 20% since the turn of the decade and an increasing number of cars on the road'.

Sir Richard Leese joined in the debate this week, also pro-congestion charge, responding to Graham Stringer’s comments: 'We could have avoided the controversy, taken a safer course. But I don’t think that’s what I’ve been elected to do.'

Click on these links, read and make your own mind up.

Sir Richard Leese replies to Graham Stringer on Congestion Charging

Sir Richard Leese replies to Graham Stringer on Congestion Charging The Leader of the Council takes on the former leader of the Council


Click to Read and Rant...

Exclusive: Sir Howard Bernstein talks Congestion Charging

Sir Howard Bernstein replies directly to your questions about the Transport Innovation Fund bid

Click to Read and Rant...

Referendum on congestion charging

Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley, thinks we’re having the wool pulled over our eyes. . . big style

Click to Read and Rant...

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

ScottJuly 11th 2008.

Hmm, didn't know that about the Metrolink but guess what! Tydesley (M29) area is getting an express bus apparently. We already have one so where is the improvement??? Because of all this I doubt he Labour government will still be in power by then. Besides that, the curreny economic crisis thanks to Mr Brown will make all this not happen with a bit of luck. I also tried to find out on the number on the gmfuturetransport website on how much it will cost me to get to work, I am unsure if I will pay the extra charge working in Salford Quays. I travel down Trafford Road and thats where the line goes in the map, if this is the case many people with lower incomes are going to be unable to continue working. Its one thing after another with both Manchester Council and the politicians. I am intrigued as to how much leese is going to get as a bonus for all this, no doubt he is claiming his expenses already from us all!!

DaveJuly 11th 2008.

Dave Telford - £3billion pays for everything, including £1.2billion on expanding the Metrolink from 37 stops to 105 stops.Hong Kong probably did Oyster-style ticketing swiftly as their public transport is fully funded and locally controlled. I bet it still cost a lot to implement.Finally, Hong Kong implement a tax of 35-100% of the cost of the car to register it for the first time. There was similar complaints about that back in the 80's as there is about the congestion charge here now. Maybe you would prefer a 100% tax on your car registration instead?

Dave TelfordJuly 11th 2008.

We're consistantly told by the propaganda that doing nothing is not an option. there is a better way:Take the grant, forget about the loan. There is a lot you can do with the £1.2bn, cut out the overkill for administration and management and we don't need to risk the local economy with congestion charge.I'm really not sure why the self-important decision makers can't think of these things themselves.

JanieBJuly 11th 2008.

Completely with hellersdad on this one. Deliver the transport system - then we pay. We were f***** over once by the government with the Metro link. Do we trust them? Noooo.

MIkeyJuly 11th 2008.

money, money, money - always the same on this blog. the congestion charge will reduce traffic, improve public transport AND improve the environment across the whole region. simply taking the funding for the tram will not take enough cars off the road. congestion across the M60 corridor and in parts of the city centre are at breaking point already - and this after the last expansion of the motorway system. what do we do, just keep wasting money adding lanes to the M60 or actually change peoples commuting habits? the level of noise and air pollution caused by cars commuting around Greater Manchester is only going to get worse as car ownership expands. it is all or nothing - no middle options will suffice. motorists cannot complain, the costs of motoring have gone down by 18% since 1988.

John PeakJuly 11th 2008.

Annoy-nymous are you kidding. Trafford are the most useless council in Greater Manchester. All they do is keep the council tax low and then stay aloof of the fact that one and all from Old Trafford to Hale Barns the borough is a mere suburb and owes its existence to Manchester.

Mike SlatteryJuly 11th 2008.

Wow! another two against one with the pro's having the majority. Bring on the referendum and let's see who has the majority vote then.

DaveJuly 11th 2008.

Dave Telford - £3billion pays for everything, including £1.2billion on expanding the Metrolink from 37 stops to 105 stops.Hong Kong probably did Oyster-style ticketing swiftly as their public transport is fully funded and locally controlled. I bet it still cost a lot to implement.Finally, Hong Kong implement a tax of 35-100% of the cost of the car to register it for the first time. There was similar complaints about that back in the 80's as there is about the congestion charge here now. Maybe you would prefer a 100% tax on your car registration instead?

AnonymousJuly 11th 2008.

"The MEN politics blog has a diagram of when they will finish, with only the Trafford and second city centre crossing line not being finished on time." - Like he said, incomplete. Why should Trafford residents have to pay ANYTHING when they are getting nothing for it? Same goes for Bury, Bolton and Stockport. New express busways... pull the other one! It'll just be an extension of the bus lanes which we currently have.

hellersdadJuly 11th 2008.

Heard the latest? The proposed Metrolink "improvements" won't be completed until a couple of years after the Manchester Travel Tax is imposed. So much for all the public transport improvements being completed before the tax is brought in. In my opinion not a penny should be charged before the whole shabang is fully completed.

Dave TelfordJuly 11th 2008.

Dave, you seem to suggest adding routes or oyster card systems can cost £3bn. They don't, looking at hte costs suggested by TIF, I think the scheme is just inventing things to do and putting big figues against it.How can a bus stop (sorry interchange) cost millions of £££? How can Hong Kong introduce oyster style cards accross it's MTR, busses and ferries and the whole thing cost a fraction of the TIF figure. Surely Manchester's Quango is not full of such incompetence that is costs so much more.

DavidJuly 11th 2008.

It would appear that on the plan for the outer ring the ring crosses the M60 just after the middleton road junction then re-crosses before the M66 junction 18.This would mean that anybody driving around the M60 crossing this ring in either direction will have to pay the charge.The information sent out is, therefore, misleading at the very least as it states that there is no charge for vehicles that drive around the M60.David Marks

Dave TelfordJuly 11th 2008.

So why not simply take the £1.2bn, spend that wisely, cut out the cushy appointments for Bernstein & Leese's cronies and forget about hte CC.We avoid the detrimental effects on hte local economy, we all keep our jobs and businesses plus we get well thought out policies. Lets be honest, it does not take billions to put on more buses, build a few platforms, lay a tarmac for a few bus stands and put in an octopus system

DaveJuly 11th 2008.

hellersdad - are you just making that up about improvements not being implemented until after the congestion charge not being implemented?The MEN politics blog has a diagram of when they will finish, with only the Trafford and second city centre crossing line not being finished on time. The Trafford line was not in the original proposals anyway, and also people in the area will get 50% discount until the Metrolink is complete..Is this what you are talking about?

JanieBJuly 11th 2008.

Completely with hellersdad on this one. Deliver the transport system - then we pay. We were f***** over once by the government with the Metro link. Do we trust them? Noooo.

Dave TelfordJuly 11th 2008.

I'm not sure the relevence of public transport being fully funded and locally controlled on HK launching their octopus system. The cost of a system is the same regardless of how it is funded and I'd love to hear your definition of fully funded. If you really are saying we should use the MTR as an example on how public transport should be financed, I AGREE.

DaveJuly 11th 2008.

Anonymous -"Like he said, incomplete. Why should Trafford residents have to pay ANYTHING when they are getting nothing for it? Same goes for Bury, Bolton and Stockport. New express busways... pull the other one! It'll just be an extension of the bus lanes which we currently have."This is why congestion charge supporters are so frustrated with people like you who just lie and lie to make a point, either that or you don't understand the consultation documents.What about the new Oyster-card style integrated ticketing system and off-bus ticketing which will massively improve waiting times on buses, the extra Metrolink trams to provide a better service to Trafford, the better and newer buses, new bus routes running orbital routes, new bus routes running crosstown, the new train carriages on routes into the city centre, the bike hire schemes, and the fact that the Trafford Park Metrolink an second City Centre Crossing is only a possibility if TIF is accepted.So Trafford, Bury, Bolton and Stockport won't benefit from these?

DaveJuly 11th 2008.

Dave Telford - I think we'd probably agree on a few things, like public transport should be properly funded by national government, without the need for local congestion charges. However, I'm of the view that seeing as this will never happen in the UK, then we should grasp the opportunities the TIF brings whilst we have the chance.

Mike SlatteryJuly 11th 2008.

Who you trying to kid MIkey? gone down my arse. Do you actually own a car???

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