[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Council wants Darling resignation
Richard Leese and the Lord Mayor of Manchester
Richard Leese: "We have no confidence in the Secretary of State"
Manchester City Council has demanded the resignation of transport secretary Alistair Darling after plans for three new tram routes in the city were axed.

The Labour-controlled council walked out of a meeting on Wednesday and protested at a Metrolink station.

The government announced on Tuesday it was ditching phase 3 of the Metrolink system over spiralling costs.

It meant plans to extend the network to Rochdale, Oldham, Tameside, Stockport and Manchester Airport are scrapped.

Council leader Richard Leese called on Mr Darling to visit Manchester and "feel the people's wrath".

This is a crushing blow, not just for Manchester, but for the whole principle of light rapid transit in this country
Councillor Neil Swannick

He added: "The transport strategy rug has been pulled completely from under our feet.

"If we had buses nose to nose we couldn't carry the number of people we need to move around this conurbation.

"I can't find language strong enough to express our anger.

"We demand that Alastair Darling comes to Manchester and speaks to people in east Manchester, in Wythenshawe, in Oldham and Rochdale.
Alastair Darling
The Manchester Metrolink has been regarded as a success

"We clearly have no confidence in the Secretary of State for Transport. He should resign."

Council officials will meet the Department of Transport on 28 July to discuss Metrolink's future.

The council's executive member for planning and environment, Councillor Neil Swannick, said: "This is a crushing blow, not just for Manchester, but for the whole principle of light rapid transit in this country."

The government is in a position, when spending taxpayers' money, where it cannot carry on spending money on them when there are increasing costs
Department for Transport
"We will continue to press for a sustainable public transport system in Manchester."

But a Department for Transport spokesman said Mr Darling would not be resigning.

He added: "Alistair recognises Metrolink has been extremely successful, but the plans for these extensions have been dogged by consecutive cost increases.

"In July 2000, we agreed to contribute 282m. By December 2002, that had risen to 520m.

"Now, we are being asked to pay 17m a year for 30 years towards the cost, whereas previously the figure was 5m.

"The government is in a position, when spending taxpayers' money, where it cannot carry on spending money on them when there are increasing costs."

The anger in Manchester has been exacerbated by Mr Darling's decision to foot half the bill of the 10bn Crossrail scheme in London.


SEE ALSO:
Anger after Metro expansion axed
21 Jul 04  |  Manchester
Government scraps trams extension
20 Jul 04  |  Manchester
Calls for central tram route
11 Mar 03  |  England
500m tram extension unveiled
22 Mar 00  |  UK News
Tram drivers on strike
17 Jan 04  |  Manchester


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific