Friday, October 24, 2008

The Madcap Manchester Congestion Charge Scheme

Manchester City Council must want their collective heads read. They want to introduce a congestion charge into a city that compared to London is not congested at all. Indeed, over the last four years, congestion has fallen! It's clearly just a scam to fleece both individuals and businesses of yet more of their hard earned money. But they might not get their own way. A cross party anti congestion charge campaign was launched this morning, which will hopefully see this madcap scheme consigned to history. Just to show how madcap it actually is, if introduced it would cover an area of 80 square miles - London's scheme is only 8 square miles.

The Stop the Charge Coalition is a cross-party group of Greater Manchester MPs, council leaders and 256 businesses joining forces to campaign for a No Vote in the December referendum. The proposed scheme could cost people up to £1200 a year in a city where the average wage after tax is £14,000. On top of this it will saddle local councils with a debt of £1.2 billion to pay for the scheme - at a time when the local (Labour) councils are cutting services and staff.

MPs Graham Stringer, Graham Brady, Andrew Gwynne, Andrew Stunnel, Mark Hunter, Barbara Keeley and Jim Dobbin, together with the leaders of Stockport and Trafford Councils, have joined local businesses to form the Stop the Charge coalition.

Business members of the coalition include major employers and brand names such as: Kellogg’s, Makro, Harvey Nichols, United Biscuits, Speedy Hire Plc, Peel Holdings, Hydes Brewery, Unilever and partnerships and soles traders as well as the Federation of Small Business and shop stewards.

To say the current proposed scheme is deeply flawed is a gross understatement. Essentially, Manchester City Council have been bribed by the DfT into running with this scheme and acting as a guinea pig before forcing congestion schemes on other towns and cities. Included in the bid documents are no guarantees on charging times, pricing, revenue streams or zone boundaries. It really is back of the fag packet stuff.

Finally, the question has already been released and yes, you've guessed it - no mention of the congestion charge in the wording only of 'transport improvements'. Shocking stuff.


Anonymous said...

Ah, of course, if 'Big Business' is against it, well we just have to go along with what they say, don't we, whatever the environmental impact..

'New Green Conservatives, same old policies..'

rob's uncle said...

'The wording of the referendum question on the introduction of a congestion charge for Greater Manchester has been drafted. Almost £3bn in government funds will be be invested in public transport across the county if approved but only if the charge is introduced by 2013. The proposed wording for the December ballot is: Do you agree with the Transport Innovation Fund proposals?Greater Manchester's 10 council leaders will vote on the wording on 31 October. The question does not make any direct reference to the actual congestion charge.'
Snagged from:

Catosays said...

Are these people mad?
Do they learn nothing?
Are they deaf?

You tell me cos I'm buggered if I know!

Anonymous said...

Everyone might not to think about this but a recession will reduce congestion.

Anonymous said...

Eh, the crazier it is the better, yeah, bangin', congestion charge but only if they gice out Vicks Sinex nose things free. We're mad for it Iain. They don't call the city Madchester for nothing.

@molesworth_1 said...

One can only assume that the good burghers of Leeds & Liverpool will be rubbing their hands with glee. BTW, from my own personal experience, this astounding piece of economic foot-shooting couldn't happen to a nicer town.

O/T what is all this 'audio verification' nonsense? I keep having to switch my amp. from whatever I'm listening to (TV, Radio, CD etc.) over to my PC audio feed to listen to some p***ed Albanian talking backwards.

Anonymous said...

Why do you not mention the fact that the government would give £3bn to spend on public transport improvements in Greater Manchester if the congestion charge goes ahead?

And no, it isn't a bribe because the people of Greater Manchester don't have to accept it if they don't want.

And the figures you quote that you can be charged for are ludicrous. You'd have to drive back and to into the city centre four times within rush hour every single day of the year to rack up that much. I doubt most people in Greater Manchester will come anywhere close to that. Most people won't get charged at all.

Also, this scheme is more intelligent than London's given that it only applies in rush hour on weekdays. So the retail, leisure industry won't be damaged at all.

Why don't you report the facts as well as opinion, rather than just spout bollocks about a subject you clearly no very little about?

Anonymous said...

This is different to London

The deal as stated is that the congestion charge will be introduced in 2013, at peak times only; when entering the zone in the morning and leaving it in the evening. It's more targeted. The other side of the deal is a major investment in public transport (bus, rail and metrolink) BEFORE 2013.

I'm happy to concede that the legalese of the proposal might give the Government a few loopholes so that they can shaft us some more, but I don't think the deal as sold is that bad.

Word verification "nelibles". Is that a word?

John Pickworth said...

If congestion was such a major problem in Manchester, you'd be sure that Big Business would be screaming for the scheme... it isn't, so they're not.

Traffic is bad everywhere. Maybe the Council Executives and their employees would consider relocating out of town or using public transport? Nah, thought not. The scheme will tax the public and residents off the road and the ruling elite will be able to whizz along the empty roads in their Zil Limos.

Anonymous said...

Dear Iain

Bury Council is also opposed to congestion charging.

Cllr Stuart Penketh
Radcliffe North
Bury Council
Conservative & Unionist

Anonymous said...

Anon 9.06pm

Thank you for the alternative view. However,

1. If it is such a good idea, why have Manchester Council not mentioned it? The Referendum is clearly biased.

2. Do you really think in the current climate the Government have got 3bn pounds to spend on Mancester transport?

3. Isn't the one and only reason for the charge another revenue generating initiative. Which, in a recession/depression might not be very sensible. Why is a successful Northern town about to committee economic self-harm?

4. Don't we pay enough for transport improvements anyway out of our taxes. That's what tax is for - not paying for idle Quangos and the feckless. Why do people have to accept a tax on getting in and out of Manchester, to get what they are entitled too anyway!!

Haven't we heard all this before - pay mor tax and we'll spend it on the NHS and education!!! Yeh right.

Labour are liars, Manchester needs to get itself some decent right wing politicians. This is what they get from a Labour council - and more fool them!!!

Anonymous said...

Why the quid pro quo? If the £3Bn is available for spending on public transport improvements it should be disbursed accordingly. There can be no sensible reason for linking it to congestion charging.

Anonymous said...

From the Financial Times:

"... Manchester business is divided. A local poll by the CBI employers' group found more than half its members backed the charge.

... Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority said fewer than 20 per cent of peak-time drivers would pay any charge and the average amount paid would be less than £3."

Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side, it's a Nuclear Free Zone. Even the Labour Loonies know this is a vote loser.
Freedom to Prosper

Anonymous said...

Apart from the cost, this scheme would mean even more Big Brother bullshit, with a network of cameras tracking every car entering and leaving the zone. And as mentioned, the zone is huge, it is not central Manchester, which does get busy at rush hour, it's everything in the M60. Everything about this scheme is hateful, and I can only hope it is voted down by a big majority.

Anonymous said...

If I was Manchester and the Labour Party promised an additional £3bn for a yes vote I would check my watch after I had shaken hands on it.

Besides which, why the hell should Government offer a £3bn bribe? If the scheme is what voters want, that's fine.

Anonymous said...

New Labour

New Liars

Anonymous said...

Stockport Council have voted against the scheme.Not least because we would be expected to fund trams in other boroughs,but get none of our own..Stockport would just get a tarted up bus station and a lift from the bus station to the A6,which would no doubt be full of urine from local pub goers within hours.

Manicbeancounter said...

The scheme is a complex one, that I have been looking into on my blog, along with others.
However, for those outside Manchester it is worth looking at in detail for two reasons. First, due to the huge effort put into "selling" the scheme. This is Nu Labour spin at it's most vociferous and desparate. Second, it the charge gets through, watch for it to be extended both within Manchester and to other cities. If it does not, a major plank of the Government's transport policy will be undermined.

Tom said...

No mention of Mike Butterworth's 'dance with the devil' comments then?

Peel Holdings finance this whole thing, along with dubious lobbyists PPS. They also, surprise surprise, happen to operate the largest payed car park in Europe.

So this is democracy...

Anonymous said...

I am so incensed about this proposed congestion charge, I have just written a website about it: GM Congestion Charge.

This will impact local families and businesses. It will not stop at £1 here and £2 there. The area will grow qand the price will increase.

Another stealth tax on the motorist!

MancMan said...

The congestion charge is a joke. I live in Manchester I travel on the Met and my wife drives to work so I can look at it from both sides.

First of al, these “major public transport improvements” amount to very little when you study the detail. Claims of a promised revolution start to fade when you add up just 2950 extra seats on peak time rail services (compared to the 4000 Manchester is already getting) and 120 extra school buses to be spread out across more than 1000 schools and two new stretches of tram, one of which, to the Airport is simply replacing an existing rail service.

People travelling in cars face paying £25 per week at 2007 prices just to get to work. Who knows what the cost will be if the charge is finally introduced and how often and how much will they increase it by and increases will happen. My increase in salary and my wife's were below inflation but you can bet any increases to the charge will be in line or above along with everythin else, Gas, Water, Electric, Food, Council Tax and every kind of Duty.

The government already takes in huge revenues from car tax, fuel duty, insurance premium tax and VAT when purchasing and servicing car. They then use this money for their own needs, pay rises, payments to family members who they claim are working for them, payments for several houses and cars. It is ok for people at the top to propose these measures, people who will probably worm out of the charge and people who would not be seen on public transport, but it is the people who use it day to day who will suffer.

On top of this we are then bullied into accepting, being told this is our only chance, there is no plan b. Adding to this the hundreds of thousands of pounds that have been spent on tv adverts, posters, full page newspaper ads, adverts on buses and at every Met station, packs and literature sent out and the final voting forms.Surely this could have been better spent.

My vote went NO and later today we will find out the final decison. I can only hope that the rest of Greater Manchester did the right thing too. Accept this and we are locked in. Gordon Brown and all other MPs will be rubbing their hands together and laughing. £1200a year in 2007, £2000 a year in 2013, and then who knows where for the next 30 years, your children and even unborn children could be forking out thousands of pounds a year for a decision they did not have any say in. That for me is a scary thought.

MancMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.