Page last updated at 03:47 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 04:47 UK

Congestion charge jobs boost plan

Traffic in Manchester
A report claims the congestion charge could create just under 10,000 jobs

Almost 10,000 jobs could be created in Greater Manchester if congestion charge plans are approved, a report claims.

The government has pledged to invest almost 3bn in public transport across the area if the plans are backed.

This would lead to a "direct boost" to the local economy, the report on behalf of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) states.

Under the plans, drivers would pay to cross the M60 and a second ring around Manchester city centre at peak times.

A public consultation is currently under way across Greater Manchester to explain how the charge, which would cost 318m to set up, would work.

If approved, motorists would start paying in 2013 to cross the city during rush hour periods.

Ripple effect

According to the report by independent consultants, Arup, as many as 5,800 new jobs in the construction industry and associated supply chain businesses would be created directly and indirectly across the region over the next five years from the bulk of the government's 2.8bn Transport Innovation Fund (TiF).

An estimated 3,900 more jobs could then be created from operations in the expanded transport system and its supply chain, and the remaining investment between 2014 and 2019.

It is believed additional jobs could also be created as a result of the increased spending power of workers employed in these areas.

This very direct boost to the local economy is perfectly timed to help combat a recession
Lord Smith, Association of Greater Manchester Authorities

Lord Smith, leader of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), said: "The ripple effect as a result of 3bn investment could be worth up to 10 billion to the economy at a time of an economic slowdown.

"The findings show that the TiF package alone is set to vastly increase the number of new jobs being created in the region every year and at a time when economic growth is slowing.

"This very direct boost to the local economy is perfectly timed to help combat a recession - especially as charging would not be introduced until 2013 at the earliest but job creation would be from 2009."

Alan Manning, north-west regional secretary for the TUC, has welcomed the potential job boost.

Unbalanced picture

"Unions are very encouraged by the real jobs that the proposed investment under the TiF bid would create," he said.

"Given the current state of the economy, a 3bnn investment in Greater Manchester's infrastructure, and the jobs this will create, would be very welcome."

However, Sean Corker, the coordinator for Manchester Against Road Tolls (MART), believes the announcement of new jobs had to be tempered with the realisation that the congestion charge could result in job losses too.

"The authorities are not presenting a balanced picture of the effects of the congestion charge," he said.

"There is no point estimating how many jobs could be created without saying how many jobs will be lost, how many firms will pull out of the city or whether people can afford the higher commute costs because of the congestion charge."




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