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Last Updated: Friday, 25 May 2007, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
City congestion fee plan unveiled
Traffic on Oxford Road, Manchester
The charging plans have to be approved by the government
Motorists face congestion charges of up to 5 to drive into central Manchester and out again on the busiest roads at the busiest times.

They will pay a deposit for an electric tag, which will monitor journeys on 15 main routes into the city in the morning and evening rush periods.

The scheme proposed by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) will need government approval.

Opponents say the announcement is "bad news for drivers across Britain".

Greater Manchester's plans could be in place by 2012, and pave the way for similar schemes in England.

A public consultation will be carried out before the proposals are put to the government.

Map of congestion zones
M60 Outer Ring: 2 to enter 7-9.30am and 1 to leave 4-6.30pm on weekdays
Intermediate ring: 1 to enter 7-9.30am and 1 to leave 4-6.30pm on weekdays
Location of intermediate ring to be determined
No charge 9.30am-4pm weekdays, or at weekends

The plans envisage discounts for vulnerable groups, essential service vehicles will not be charged and delivery drivers will pay a capped rate.

Entering an outer cordon around the M60, encircling the city, will cost 2, with people charged another 1 to get into the centre.

An extra 1 will be charged to leave each of the zones.

The charges will apply between 0700-0930 and 1600-1830.

Outside those times motorists will pay nothing.

Even in the busy periods, journeys which do not pass a charging point will not incur a fee.

Number plate recognition systems will be used to catch drivers who should pay but fail to do so.

Greater Manchester is among 10 areas in England which have government money to develop possible congestion-beating plans in the hope of getting finance under the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF).

Manchester will seek 1bn from the TIF, and plans to borrow a further 2bn, which will be repaid by income from the congestion fees.

Traffic jam

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The plans are part of a wider 3bn transport plan for Greater Manchester, which also includes expanding the Metrolink tram system and increasing bus and train services.

The congestion scheme is dependent on improving public transport.

Lord Peter Smith, leader of AGMA, said: "If we fail to address road congestion, Greater Manchester could miss out on 30,000 jobs over the next 15 years.

"Bringing in more jobs and investment means that more people will be coming into the city centre. We need to cope with those numbers.

"We believe that doing nothing would be the most dangerous decision of all.

"We need to grow faster if we want to narrow the gap with London and avoid the problems that other major cities in the world have suffered because they failed to tackle the problem."

AGMA members say they will only go forward with the bid for TIF funding if the plans meet four tests, which are:

  • There would no charge before transport systems are "significantly improved"
  • Any charging would only apply where there are problems with congestion
  • The measures support the city region's economic and social plans
  • The measures are acceptable to both the public and businesses.
  • Councillor Roger Jones, chairman of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTA), said improving public transport was the priority.

    He said: "I think the people of Manchester would agree that although public transport is good in parts it is not good enough. We have to give people a choice."

    Motoring groups have reacted with anger to the announcement, with the Manchester Against Tolls group describing Friday as a "bad day for drivers all over Britain".

    The group called the maximum 5 charge a "Trojan horse" and said this would just be the start of charges for road users.

    "Ken Livingstone has already demonstrated in London what will happen - he increased the 5 charge to 8 and has doubled the size of the charge zone," a spokesman said.

    "Road pricing is just another poll tax and will hit less well off drivers the hardest. The intention can only be to try and force them off the road."

    Congestion plans for Manchester unveiled.


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