Local Lib Dem MPs say no to imposition of congestion charge scheme!

June 10, 2008 4:42 PM
Mark Westminster

Local Lib Dem MPs after a statement in Parliament demand that congestion charging plans be put on hold

Following a statement today in the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for Transport Ruth Kelly announcing the Government's support for the Greater Manchester congestion charge, local Liberal Democrat MPs Mark Hunter (Cheadle) and Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove) are demanding that the plans be put on ice until previous promises on improvements to public transport are made good.

The Greater Manchester congestion charging scheme has now been approved by the Government and will go to 'public consultation' before being re-submitted to the Department for Transport to be accepted or rejected.

The scheme proposes a two ring charging system that would mean those travelling from the outer ring of the congestion zone to the centre of Manchester in peak times would pay £5 per day. In exchange the scheme promises a £2.8 billion investment in public transport, £1.5 billion of which will come from central Government.

Speaking after the statement Mr Hunter said "Stockport Council has taken a clear lead on this issue throughout. As it stands the scheme does not make sense for our residents, and I am in total agreement with the Council's position.

"Local residents would be paying £5 per day to get into Manchester, but would not see the benefits of the improvements in public transport that areas nearer the city would see. We've heard all these promises from the Government before, so why should we believe them now? When the long awaited Metrolink extension to Stockport has happened and the A555 Relief Road has been completed, we might then be prepared to listen to their arguments - but not before.

"Given that 3 out of 10 Greater Manchester Councils now oppose the scheme the Government should listen and not impose its decision against the will of the people."

Mr Stunell added, "Under the scheme as it currently stands the commuters in our area will be footing the bill for improvements to public transport in other areas of Greater Manchester. The major investments planned for our area only equate to 1/60th of the total budget for improving public transport, hardly fair when they will have to pay twice over to get into the centre of Manchester while those inside the inner ring will only pay once.

The scheme will also split Stockport into two meaning that people will have to pay just to drive across the town even if their destination is not Manchester."

When the scheme was first proposed the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities promised that it would not move forward unless it had the backing of the local community. However, a survey in 2007 found that 67% of the public and 78% of businesses in Stockport are against the scheme, whilst three of the Greater Manchester Councils oppose it.

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