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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
New petition against road charge
Traffic on Oxford Road, Manchester
The charging plans have to be approved by the government
A group of people opposed to road charging plans in Greater Manchester have set up a new protest campaign.

Manchester Against Road Tolls (MART) who were behind an online petition which saw 1.8m signatures oppose the scheme, have launched a new petition.

The organisation says the charge will severely harm the city's economy.

However, the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, which is behind the scheme, says if the traffic problem is not tackled the city will lose out.

Pete Roberts, a member of MART, said: "Now is the time for the people of Manchester to start the fight back against these toll plans which will destroy jobs and put the city at a major economic disadvantage."

'Serious concern'

On Saturday the group took to Manchester city centre asking people to sign the new petition.

They also handed out leaflets which claim the proposed maximum 5 charge to drive in and out of the city at peak times would ultimately be increased so motorists would end up paying 1.34 a mile.

Under the congestion charging plans, electronic tags would be issued to charge people passing through an outer ring bordered by the M60 and an inner ring nearer the city centre.

The new petition follows on from a recent study by Peel Holdings which revealed that four out of five businesses are opposed to congestion charging in Greater Manchester.

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

Andrew Simpson, Peel's managing director, said: "This tax is a cause of serious concern to employers and those who drive the Manchester economy.

"It will hamstring businesses and drive away potential investors in the city.

"In the global economy, many businesses are footloose - in other words, they can relocate easily. This kind of disincentive will only encourage visitors to go elsewhere."

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."


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