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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 September 2007, 01:05 GMT 02:05 UK
Road tolls 'unfair', say councils
London traffic
The congestion charge for London was introduced in 2002
Commuters will be left "high and dry" by congestion charging schemes unless more cash is found for public transport, council leaders have warned.

Road pricing could help the environment and cut jams, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.

But spokesman Cllr David Sparks added it would be "grossly unfair" to levy drivers without offering alternatives.

Transport Minister Rosie Winterton said road pricing would go "hand in hand" with improvements to local networks.

'Unwanted tax'

The LGA said that funds for road pricing trials were insufficient.

We have also said that any revenue raised by local road pricing schemes must be re-invested in local transport
Rosie Winterton
Transport Minister

Although 1.4bn has been earmarked for potential schemes, it said, Manchester alone has calculated that the cost of a congestion charge scheme could reach 3bn.

It called for town halls to be allowed to borrow money against revenue raised from road pricing, so they could invest in better public transport.

Cllr Sparks said: "Councils want to be able to make road pricing work.

"But, it would be grossly unfair to force people out of their cars if there are not enough buses, trains and trams to give road users a viable alternative.

"This would simply be leaving drivers high and dry and force them into paying an unwanted tax."

He added that it was important that road pricing was not seen by motorists simply as a form of stealth taxation.

Ms Winterton said that the government had "given local authorities record levels of investment for this purpose.

"We have also said that any revenue raised by local road pricing schemes must be re-invested in local transport."

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