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Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 15:18 GMT
Councils back congestion charge
Traffic on Oxford Road, Manchester
Fifteen main routes into the city centre will be chargeable
Plans to introduce a congestion charge on the main routes into Manchester city centre have moved a step closer.

Council leaders from the 10 Greater Manchester authorities met on Friday and backed the report proposing a charge for motorists by 2012.

The system would target the 15 roads with the greatest congestion but would cost less than the 8 London charge.

Its introduction depends on a bid for 1bn of government funds to improve public transport in the region.

Unlike the London charge, hi-tech systems would charge drivers according to the time of day, length of journey and route taken.

Public consultation

The report by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) said motorists would pay per mile.

Satellite tracking, electronic tagging and licence plate recognition technology are all being considered as methods of charging.

A public consultation will now be carried out so that drivers, residents and businesses can have their say on the proposals.

AGMA has said the scheme would not be introduced on roads until the people affected have access to a reliable, integrated public transport system which provides a genuine alternative to the car.

Referendum demand

Roger Jones, chairman of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTA), said it was essential the 1bn bid was successful.

He said his biggest fear was that, should the bid fail, political leaders brought in congestion charging anyway.

"Now that would be a nightmare situation and I hope to goodness we can avoid that," said Mr Jones.

The National Alliance Against Tolls said drivers were already paying to use the roads through fuel duty, which it argued was a more effective way of penalising heavier road users.

"This crazy congestion charging proposal must be put to all the people in the Manchester area through a referendum now," a spokesman said.

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