Time to spell it out - says Mark Hunter MP

October 23, 2008 3:45 PM

Mark says congestion charging referendum question needs to be clear

Cheadle MP, Mark Hunter has today met with Sir Neil McIntosh, Returning Officer for the Greater Manchester Transport Referendum to express his concerns about the wording of the Referendum.

As it stands the question is phrased so that it doesn't mention the congestion charge - it asks only if the person 'agree(s) with the Transport Innovation Fund Proposals'. Mr Hunter, with other MPs from the Greater Manchester area, met with the returning officer to discuss how the referendum would be worded, what material would accompany the ballot and how the technicalities of a referendum would work in practice.

Speaking about this issue Mr Hunter said, "I can't believe the referendum question doesn't mention the congestion charge. The charge is the contentious issue that's at the very heart of these proposals and that's why I, along with other parliamentary colleagues from all parties, have tried to convince Sir Neil McIntosh that it should be included in the question.

"If the words 'congestion charging' are not included I don't believe it will be clear to local residents that there will be a cost to them if they vote for these proposals. If the cost of these proposals to local people and businesses isn't made clear in the question then they might not be aware that the 'Transport Innovation Fund' comes with a hefty price tag.

"I'm also concerned that the accompanying material will not be seen to be fair and impartial. That is why I've asked Sir Neil to circulate material from the 'Yes' and 'No' camps with the ballot papers themselves, so that residents will be able to hear both sides of the argument.

"I can assure local residents who, unlike their neighbours in inner Manchester, will have to pay for these proposals, which I will continue to urge Sir Neil to ensure that the referendum portrays a clear picture of the proposals being put forward."

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