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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April 2008, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Congestion becomes election issue
By Greg Dawson
Newsbeat politics reporter

As part of our series on this Thursday's local elections across England and Wales, Newsbeat has visited Bury, an area of the country the Conservatives will be hoping to take control of to prove they're picking up enough support to win the next General Election.

Motorway traffic

Take a short stroll along the A56 in Bury at rush hour and it becomes very obvious there's a bit of a problem.

It's one of the main routes linking Bury to Manchester but much of it is only two lanes wide.

Every morning it's clogged with cars and lorries.

It's hardly surprising that this year's local elections in Bury are dominated by the issue of traffic.

It's after the government proposed a new congestion charge for Greater Manchester, including parts of Bury.

Local opposition

Under the scheme drivers would be charged up to 5 a day for journeys into the zone.

Neil's been a taxi driver here for 13 years.

He said: "It has got worse definitely. These [roads] are the same as what they were when they were built - they can't cope with the amount of traffic, something needs to be done."

But the charge won't go down well with everyone.

Steve lives in Bury and drives to Salford every morning.

He said: "The problem I have is it's very difficult for me to get to work. I would have to get two different trains. It's a major issue for me which would definitely determine which way I voted."

The Conservatives will be hoping to pick up the votes of people like Steve and win control of Bury council for the first time in more than 22 years.

Against congestion charging

Both they and the Liberal Democrats are against the charge.

Election results in Bury matter to each of the parties.

Past results in this area show that whoever wins here usually wins the General Election.

Motorway roadworks
There's a proposal a 5 congestion charge for Greater Manchester
The Conservatives know they've got to start doing well in places like this if they're to be considered as a government in waiting.

Ever since they lost power in 1997 they've struggled to win votes in the north-west of England.

But in the last few years Labour have been losing votes in the area to Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

Last year's local elections saw them lose control of Bury for the first time since 1986.

But that doesn't mean everyone is ready for a Prime Minister Cameron.

Neil said: "I'd prefer it to stay Labour around here but I'm not convinced Gordon Brown is the right man for the job. I don't know who is."

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