Friday, December 12, 2008

Manc Congestion Charge: The People Say No

Congratulations to the people of Manchester for voting against the proposed congestion charge. Let's hope that the lesson Labour draws from this is that if it looks like a stealth tax and smells like a stealth tax, people will recognise it for what it is - and reject it.


Dave said...

And now the poor people of Manchester will be punished by having their funding withheld. Haven't we had enough of this "we know what's best for you" attitude yet?

Jackboot politics only hastens the revolution

James Higham said...

Yes and what about the other stealth taxes as well, such as nuclear, bed and garbage debris taxes?

Summer said...

Well done Manchester.

Now tell Brown to INVEST the money you ALREADY give him for transport!!! And too stop giving it to asylum seekers, the feckless and ID card plans.

Shaun said...

The will indeed learn lessons. But the lesson that they'll learn is not to allow people to vote on things you want to do but they don't....

Boo said...

Clearly the people did not understand the question, they must be asked again.

(Hey it works for the EU.)

Newmania said...

Great news , I was amazed there was any question of a yes vote until I heard this morning that it was only for people who enter in the morning and leave in the evening .In other words a majority of those voting would not be paying .
A great blow for freedom has been struck by the plucky Mancunians who are on the front line .
In fact their weather is a lot like Iraq .Sometimes its Sunni but mostly its Shiite
Bum tsssk

matt said...

How can it be a 'stealth tax' if the decision of whether it will be introduced or not is made by the people in a referendum?

Adam Penny said...

I suspect the only lesson Labour are likely to learn is not to ask the people if they might not like the answer.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me what the actual percentages were? I have a suspicion that it was a huge majority as neither the beeb or Sky have published them.

Mar Lizaro said...

Six months from now they will be asked again, and then again... After all, people that matter do want the congestion charge.

Summer said...


From The Times.
"Manchester’s proposal for peak-time tolls of up to £5 a day was defeated by a majority of 4 to 1, with 79 per cent voting against. The scheme was rejected in separate votes in all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs taking part, in which just over a million people voted out of 1.9million balloted. "

"Sir Neil McIntosh, the returning officer, said 1,033,000 votes were received - a response rate of 53.2 per cent, compared with 54.4 per cent across the region in the last General Election and between 28 per cent and 39 per cent in the last local elections. "

Chris Howell said...

I just hope that Cambridgeshire County Council, faced with the same horrible blackmail originating from the Gordon Brown over transport funding can look at the Manchester result and conclude it is time to abandon completely plans for congestion charging in Cambridge.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
britom said...

Voters in each of the 10 local authorities voted NO and the overall result was a massive 78.8 per cent voted NO.

Ben said...

Could someone please explain how something so public can be described as a stealth tax?

Anonymous said...

Definition of stealth tax.

" a new tax or a tax increase that is introduced largely unnoticed"

"an additional charge that is effectively a tax though not officially classed as one"

Victor, NW Kent said...

It is always a serious mistake for Labour to allow referendums. The people do not have the good sense to vote as Labour wishes. Ken Livingstone knew how to handle these matters.

So, they were quite correct not to have one on the EU Treaty as our uninformed and biased voters would have voted No as did those ignorant Irish.

People must realise that the political elite knows best and not to spend their time engaging in politics which should be left to enlightened professionals.

Catosays said...

Would someone please explain to me, the ACTUAL meaning of the words, 'Congestion Charge?'

Does it mean one is paying for causing congestion or what?

And, more importantly, what happens to the money which is raised from such a charge?

Meanwhile...bloody well done Manchester.

Iain Dale said...

A stealth tax is either a tax which the government tries to hide from the voters, or one which masquerades as something else. This wasn't a charge to pay for congestion, it was a tax on car users.

force12 said...

Good for the folk in Manchester. Now lets see Labour putting more of these crazy money-making ideas to a referendum. How about not a vote on whether my descendants deserve to be be put in to bondage to bail out this shit hole of a government.

After that I want a vote on whether the feckless deserve my money. In fact, get rid of the Westminster titerati altogether. Am bored playing their game.

Dick the Prick said...

It was a tax on the wage earning citizens of Greater Manchester who have been shafted more than any other group in living history. Labour think that if you're earning a wage and doing a job then you can afford to pay whatever it takes. heaven forfend that they cut spending, that is the way of the devil.

WV: hipsale - it's an idea.

Anonymous said...

Just hope they don't take a look at what happened in Edinburgh after the No vote on congestion charging. All the free parking has gone and local businesses that want to deliver in and around the city centre are paying up to £20 a day to do their jobs. So it doesn't matter what you say, No just means we'll get the money out of you another way....more creative accounting! Watch out Manchester.

Man in a Shed said...

They're not voting no. Its all to do with internal Manchester politics.

The people of Manchester are right behind Gordon Brown, as they will show in the next referendum ( and the one after that until they get the answer right ).

Onwards with the "Do Anything - as long as its the taxpayer paying" Labour party !

Twig said...

It would have been the thin end of the wedge, it's the way Labour do business.

First you get the cameras in place and then you gradually increase the charge, just like boiling frogs; The boiling frog story states that a frog can be boiled alive if the water is heated slowly enough — it is said that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will never jump out.

Same if the Irish accept the "sweeteners" offered by Brussels in exchange for a yes vote, they will find their exemptions slowly salami sliced away until they vanish, and no one will even remember what they were.
Once the veto is gone - it's gone.

WV: twity
Iain, do you make these up yourself or do you have a WV Elf ?

Manicbeancounter said...

It is worth taking a look at what this means for government policy generally.
Greater Manchester Transport paid £10m to put the package together, along with £3m spent on publicity. A majority of local politicians were strongly in favour, with most of the rest sitting on the fence.
The package was a good example of how the government views policy.

Manicbeancounter said...

To continue....

It seems to have been devised to justify a particular favoured viewpoint, so was going to be biased from the outset.
Criticisms are
1) A forecast of increasing growth in Manchester, with many of the new jobs in the city centre.
2) An overestimation of the effectiveness of a congestion charge in moving people onto public transport.
3) A failure to look at the total costs and benfits of the move, including the time taken in travelling, or the interests of commuters from outside the borough.
4) Figures pulled out of the air, such as "30,000 jobs will be lost" or "only 10% of people in Greater Manchester will pay the charge"
5) The use of threats - it is all or nothing. I wait to see if the government really carries out that threat, or just waits a period and introduces the Metrolink - the big ticket item - piecemeal.
6) Failure to publicise the budgeted 5.5% annual increase in congestion charge revenues to 2041, or that it would continue long after the £1.2bn loan how been paid off.

We should look to the local politicians to recognize that they have gone way out of line with popular opinion, and learn from this.

My own view is, as a (slightly manic) Beancounter, is that we should have independent, scrutiny of policy proposals, to see if they are of net benefit to society. Maybe the revised proposals should go through this filter.

DespairingLiberal said...

That's right Iain, far better for everyone to sit in ever-growing traffic jams for longer and longer every night. The last thing we need in our cities is considerably improved public transport, cleaner air and healthier people. So much better to crow about having rejected an alleged stealth tax than make serious and long-lasting improvements to the quality of everyone's life in our major cities.

Spartan said...

DespairingLiberal ... ahhh, you mean like the difference the congestion charge made to London! ;-)

no longer anonymous said...

"So much better to crow about having rejected an alleged stealth tax than make serious and long-lasting improvements to the quality of everyone's life in our major cities."

Perhaps your name should be ArrogantLiberal seeing as an overwhelming majority gave 2 fingers to the idea.

Mulligan said...

Where's Manchester anyway?


Me number 1 fan in world of United.

Dick the Prick said...

Despairing liberal - far better that Manchester council spends money on an energy saving marketing manager or a zest hub co-ordinator. Why oh why does Labour always want our cash but are never prepared to cut pointless spending?

Manchester voted in unison - you're wrong.

DespairingLiberal said...

Spartan - how do you know what London would be like now without the charge?

Mulligan said...

Despairing Lib

I can help Spartan out here (I know a thing or two about driving in London). The congestion charge was the biggest con ever perpetuated on the populus of a city, and has not, and never would, make a blind bit of difference to the traffic problems, simply because anyone who drives into London has no bleedin choice in the first place, Ken knew this full well.

Nonetheless you have to admire a mayor that declares Heathrow Airport a low carbon emissions zone.

Any other questions you don't have the foggiest idea about please feel free to ask.

Jabba the Cat said...

@ Summer 1:08 PM

Now tell Brown to INVEST the money you ALREADY give him for transport!!!..."

Excuse me, but no one gave Jonah anything, he took their money under false pretences.

Manicbeancounter said...

Depairing Liberal said a few hours ago.

“That's right Iain, far better for everyone to sit in ever-growing traffic jams for longer and longer every night. The last thing we need in our cities is considerably improved public transport, cleaner air and healthier people.”
It is true that congestion charging supplies a solution in the short-term. The Manchester scheme relied on the congestion charge (average £3 a day) to reduce peak time traffic flows by 15-20%. With reduced traffic flows the traffic would speed up. Peak time traffic was estimated to speed up by 30% for cars and 12% for buses. The problem is that in London & Stockholm, peak-time traffic did decrease by this amount initially, but 2 years later it was back to the levels it was before the conjestion charge was introduced. As I explained on my blog (, people adjust their expenditure to afford the more desirable option. In Manchester, this is travelling by car. In a wealthy country most people can adjust their expenditure to afford the £650 (average charge) to £1200 per year (maximum charge) by renewing their car less often, or by driving a cheaper vehicle (currently we do no have the cheapest vehicles possible – they do not sell. So there is plenty of room to go down market.) The public transport option is to spend much longer travelling, with the longest journey times in the worst weather (as fair-weather public transport users jump in their cars when it rains, or it is cold, as occasionally happens in Manchester).
But in Manchester, part of the solution was to implement some bus lanes on dual carriageways, such as the A34 (Kingsway). If a significant reduction was not achieved by the congestion charge, some congestion will get worse not better.
On the environmental impact, the worst pollution was caused by buses. Central Manchester around the bus terminus (Picadilly Gardens) is the 2nd worst place in Britain for carcinogenic pollution. The best way to spend a few hundreds of millions would be to fit the dirty old buses with some sort of filters, or replace them with new ones.

The whole package was dotted with useful ideas, but in totality the costs far outweighed the benefits. It was a complex package where the authors did not consider the question “Does society as a whole benefit from this proposal?”

Anonymous said...

and it cost £34 million just to hold this referendum. £34 a head for the 1m who voted.....the price we pay for so called democracy!