Manchester Set to Hold Congestion Charge Referendum?
The Association of British Drivers welcomes the prospect of a referendum on the introduction of a congestion charge to Greater Manchester. 1
Council Leader Sir Richard Leese has suggested a referendum after becoming concerned that disagreement over the charge between the ten councils in Greater Manchester could lead to chaos 2
. He has insisted that all ten councils must agree to abide by the result before the referendum can go ahead.
Brian Gregory, chairman of the ABD, said:
"I am delighted that Manchester's civic leaders have at long last recognised that a decision to introduce road pricing must be put to the people of Greater Manchester if it is to have any credibility."
The ABD insists, however, that the referendum question must be fair and free from political spin, and that all those likely to be affected by the charge should have a vote. The playing field must also be level, for instance the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities must reveal vital cost projections that have previously been withheld.
ABD Manchester Local Co-ordinator, and MART spokesman, Sean Corker said:
"MART would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with Manchester's authorities on framing a balanced question that all sides can agree on." 3
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries added:
"We also call for anyone who works in the congestion charge area, but who lives outside of Greater Manchester, to be included in the referendum. It would be undemocratic to deny these people an opportunity to participate in the referendum as they contribute towards the economy of Greater Manchester and stand to be directly affected by the proposed charge."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. Manchester Evening News
2. AGMA are proposing to charge drivers up to £5 to pass two cordons when driving into Manchester at peak times. The Government are linking the implementation of road pricing to provision of funds under the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF). Manchester have been lobbying for many years to gain funding to build a light rail system, which everyone supports. The Government have chosen to link the two issues in order to bribe local authorities to implement road pricing, which almost nobody supports. Three of the ten councils making up Greater Manchester are opposed to the proposals.
3. The question people are asked to answer must be straight-forward, spin free and unambiguous.
"Do you want a congestion charge because it is the only way to obtain a world class tram system in Manchester?"
would be totally unacceptable as the question is prejudiced by an unfair link to a project that everyone in Manchester wants.
Notes for Editors about the ABD