Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Wednesday, 25 July 2007 13:20 UK

Authority's support for c-charge

Traffic on Oxford Road, Manchester
Fifteen main routes into the city centre will be chargeable

Manchester City Council has voted to support plans for a congestion charge for Greater Manchester.

The authority's executive board said the charge, tied to 3bn of public transport improvements, was essential to the region's economic future.

It follows Trafford Borough Council's decision to oppose the charges, which could see motorists paying up to 5.

The 10 Greater Manchester councils are to meet to decide whether to bid for government funding for the scheme.

City council leader Sir Richard Leese said: "We need huge improvements in transport to ensure that our region continues to thrive.

"We are all currently paying a hidden tax because of congestion, which causes delays, damages air quality and makes our economy less competitive."

How many businesses and their customers will want to stay in or come to an area with road tolls?
Manchester Against Road Tolls

If the transport system is not improved, Sir Richard said the region could lose out on up to 30,000 jobs in the next 15 years.

"We need to make this bid to the Transport Innovation Fund to improve our roads and trams, get more control over buses and trains and improve life for everyone living and investing in our city region.

"However, let me reiterate - there can be no charging until improvements in public transport are in place."

The road pricing scheme, proposed by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), involves two charging rings - one at the M60, the other close to the city centre.

Drivers 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.

'Public support'

According to a poll commissioned by Greater Manchester's councils in which 5,000 residents were questioned, 53% supported the plans.

But campaign group Manchester Against Road Tolls claim the plans would actually damage the region's economy.

"How many businesses and their customers will want to stay in or come to an area with road tolls?" a spokesman said.

"The Manchester City Council Executive that voted to support these plans has 10 members, all from the same party.

"This decision will affect 2.5 million people in the Greater Manchester area why can't they have a vote?"

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